Background Most patients with hereditary hemochromatosis in the Caucasian population are homozygous for the p.C282Y mutation in the HFE gene. The penetrance and expression of hereditary hemochromatosis differ largely among cases of homozygous p.C282Y. Genetic factors might be involved in addition to environmental factors. Design and Methods In the present study, we analyzed 50 candidate genes involved in iron metabolism and evaluated the association between 214 single nucleotide polymorphisms in these genes and three phenotypic outcomes of iron overload (serum ferritin, iron removed and transferrin saturation) in a large group of 296 p.C282Y homozygous Italians. Polymorphisms were tested for genetic association with each single outcome using linear regression models adjusted for age, sex and alcohol consumption. Results We found a series of 17 genetic variants located in different genes with possible additive effects on the studied outcomes. In order to evaluate whether the selected polymorphisms could provide a predictive signature for adverse phenotype, we re-evaluated data by dividing patients in two extreme phenotype classes based on the three phenotypic outcomes. We found that only a small improvement in prediction could be achieved by adding genetic information to clinical data. Among the selected polymorphisms, a significant association was observed between rs3806562, located in the 5'UTR of CYBRD1, and transferrin saturation. This variant belongs to the same haplotype block that contains the CYBRD1 polymorphism rs884409, found to be associated with serum ferritin in another population of p.C282Y homozygotes, and able to modulate promoter activity. A luciferase assay indicated that rs3806562 does not have a significant functional role, suggesting that it is a genetic marker linked to the putative genetic modifier rs884409. Conclusions While our results support the hypothesis that polymorphisms in genes regulating iron metabolism may modulate penetrance of HFE-hereditary hemochromatosis, with emphasis on CYBRD1, they strengthen the notion that none of these polymorphisms alone is a major modifier of the phenotype of hereditary hemochromatosis.
- Transferrin saturation
ASJC Scopus subject areas