Iron overload: An important co-factor in the development of liver disease in alcoholics

Feb 17, 2009

Alcohol and iron are believed to have a synergistic effect in the development of liver injury. Furthermore, alcohol enhances iron absorption. Primary hemochromatosis is a genetic disorder, mostly resulting from mutations in the HFE gene, with a disturbance in the iron metabolism which leads to iron accumulation that may eventually result in liver disease. However, data regarding an association between iron metabolism, HFE mutations and alcoholic liver disease are inconclusive at present.

A research article to be published on January 7, 2009 in the World Journal of Gastroenterology addresses this question. A research team led by Professor Helena Cortez-Pinto, from Hospital Santa Maria in Lisbon, studied a group of heavy drinkers with and without liver disease.

A high prevalence of iron overload was found in alcoholics, which appeared to be related to the development of liver disease [odds ration for having liver disease in alcoholics with transferrin saturation greater than 45% was 2.2 (95% CI 1.37-3.54)]. Regarding HFE mutations, only H63D was found to be associated with alcoholic liver disease [odds ratio 1.57 (95% CI 1.02-2.40)]. Alcoholics who were heterozygotes for H63D mutation and had evidence of iron overload, showed an even greater risk of developing liver disease [odds ratio 2.17 (95% CI 1.42-3.32)].

Based on these findings, it appears that iron overload is an important co-factor in the development of liver disease in alcoholics. Even heterozygotes for H63D mutation, who classically do not develop liver disease, had an increased susceptibility to liver disease, in the presence of excessive alcohol consumption.

Reference: Machado MV, Ravasco P, Martins A, Almeida MR, Camilo ME, Cortez-Pinto H. Iron homeostasis and H63D mutations in alcoholics with and without liver disease. World J Gastroenterol 2009; 15(1): 106-111
www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/15/106.asp

Source: World Journal of Gastroenterology

Explore further: Gene mutation discovered in blood disorder

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Team makes scientific history with new cellular connection

Sep 11, 2014

Researchers led by Dr. Helen McNeill at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute have revealed an exciting and unusual biochemical connection. Their discovery has implications for diseases linked to mitochondria, ...

Mutating virus suppresses cow's immune response

Sep 04, 2014

Bovine viral diarrhea virus infections result in one of the most costly diseases among cattle with losses in U.S. herds estimated at $2 billion per year, according to professor Christopher Chase of the South ...

Recommended for you

Gene mutation discovered in blood disorder

2 hours ago

An international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation that causes aplastic anemia, a serious blood disorder in which the bone marrow fails to produce normal amounts of blood cells. Studying a family in which ...

Airway muscle-on-a-chip mimics asthma

4 hours ago

The majority of drugs used to treat asthma today are the same ones that were used 50 years ago. New drugs are urgently needed to treat this chronic respiratory disease, which causes nearly 25 million people ...

Lost protein could prevent hardening of the arteries

8 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers have found that when the protein matrix metalloproteinase-14 (MMP-14) is reduced or lost, white blood cells, known as macrophages, become good and could prevent hardening of ...

User comments : 0