Iron-related indexes in chronic alcoholics. Effect of alcohol withdrawal

D. Conte, M. Corsetti, A. Colli, M. T. Bardella, M. Cocciolo, A. Maestroni, M. Fraquelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Increased serum transferrin saturation and ferritin levels have been reported in chronic alcoholics. Aim. To evaluate modifications in serum iron-related indexes in chronic alcohol abusers with and without cirrhosis, at enrolment and after complete alcohol withdrawal. Patients. Fifty-one consecutive chronic alcohol abusers, 33 without and 18 with cirrhosis. Methods. Liver function tests were performed and transferrin saturation percent and serum ferritin levels measured at time 0 and after 7 and 14 days of complete alcohol withdrawal. Results. Duration of alcohol abuse was significantly longer in patients with cirrhosis than in those without (24 ± 13 SD vs 18 ± 13 SD years, p <0.01). A concomitant increase in transferrin saturation percent and serum ferritin was found in 60% of the cirrhotics and 45% of the non cirrhotic group. During the observation period transferrin saturation percent and serum ferritin fell significantly in both groups (from 59 ± 33 SD to 36 ± 22% SD, p <0.05, and from 900 ± 933 SD to 469 ± 457 SD ng/ml, p <0.01, in cirrhotics, and from 46 ± 30 SD to 27 ± 12% SD, p <0.01, and from 702 ± 602 SD to 340 ± 290 SD ng/ml, p <0.01, in non cirrhotics). Conclusions. Iron-related indexes increase with chronic alcohol abuse and return to normal rapidly after complete alcohol withdrawal. In chronic alcoholics the timing of determinations of iron-related indexes is crucial, and screening for possible concomitant genetic haemochromatosis must be postponed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-538
Number of pages5
JournalItalian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Alcohol abuse
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Cirrhosis
  • Ferritin
  • Haemochromatosis
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Transferrin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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