Association between heterozygosity for HFE gene mutations and hepatitis viruses in hepatocellular carcinoma

Anna Ludovica Fracanzani, Silvia Fargion, Maria Antonietta Stazi, Luca Valenti, Pietro Amoroso, Elisabetta Cariani, Angelo Sangiovanni, Maurizio Tommasini, Angelo Rossini, Cristina Bertelli, Erika Fatta, Valeria Patriarca, Sonia Brescianini, Tomaso Stroffolini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are strong and independent risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development. Patients with hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) are considered at risk of developing cancer. However, the interaction between HFE gene mutations and hepatitis viruses for HCC development has not been systematically searched for. To assess the interaction between HFE gene mutations and exogenous risk factors in the risk of HCC occurrence, a case-only approach, in which just a series of patients is enrolled, was used. Three hundred three cirrhotic patients (231 males, 72 females) from five liver units in different geographic areas of Italy, who developed HCC during regular follow-up between January 1999 and March 2003, and whose blood DNA was available, were analyzed. In all subjects, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), anti-HCV and HFE gene mutations were assayed; alcohol intake was recorded by history. The interaction between HFE genotypes and hepatitis viruses for HCC was estimated by multivariate analysis adjusting for the confounding effect of alcohol intake, area of residence and months of follow-up. Of the 303 HCC cases, 12 (4.0%) were heterozygous for the C282Y mutation, 93 (30.7%) for the H63D, and 198 (65.3%) homozygous for the wild allele. Multivariate analysis showed that C282Y heterozygous males were 3.8-fold (95% CI = 1.0-15.2) more likely to be HBV positive and that H63D heterozygous females were 6.0-fold (95% CI = 1.2-113.8) more likely to be HCV positive than wild type subjects. In conclusion, given the association between C282Y mutation and HBV infection in male patients with HCC, a careful evaluation and follow-up should be considered in the C282Y-positive subjects with hepatitis B virus related liver disease. The interaction between the H63D mutation and HCV, observed only in women, may reflect a higher sensitivity to H63D-induced iron metabolism abnormalities and a reduced antioxidant capability in the presence of an even minor increase of iron which may occur as a consequence of the coexistence of hepatitis C infection and heterozygosity for HH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalBlood cells, molecules & diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2005


  • HBV infection
  • HCV infection
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • HFE mutations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Hematology


Dive into the research topics of 'Association between heterozygosity for HFE gene mutations and hepatitis viruses in hepatocellular carcinoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this