Clinical Significance of Hepatic Iron Deposition and Serum Iron Values in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Infection

Metwally, Mohamed A.; Zein, Claudia O.; Zein, Nizar N.
February 2004
American Journal of Gastroenterology;Feb2004, Vol. 99 Issue 2, p286
Academic Journal
OBJECTIVES: To assess the potential association between hepatic iron deposition or serum iron values and hepatic fibrosis and inflammatory activity in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection.METHODS: In 100 consecutive patients with hepatitis C virus infection, tissue iron deposition was assessed by quantifying iron stain on liver biopsy specimens. Serum iron, ferritin, and transferrin saturation were determined by standard laboratory procedures. Statistical analyses incorporated potential confounders associated with hepatic fibrosis.RESULTS: Twenty-one patients had no fibrosis (stage 0), 13 had portal fibrosis (stage I), 31 had periportal fibrosis (stage II), 10 had bridging fibrosis (stage III), and 25 had cirrhosis (stage IV). Positive iron stain found in liver biopsy specimens of 19 patients was associated with stage III or IV fibrosis (p= 0.004). No significant difference was found between the iron concentration or the hepatic iron index in patients with stage III or IV fibrosis compared with patients with stage I or II fibrosis. At least 1 of 3 serum iron values assessed was abnormal in 55 patients. In univariate analysis, elevated serum iron (p= 0.01), serum ferritin (p<0.001), and transferrin saturation (p= 0.002) were associated with stage III or IV fibrosis. In multivariate analysis, the only independent predictive factor of severe hepatic fibrosis was serum ferritin (p<0.02; odds ratio= 11.35). The serum ferritin value and tissue iron stain had a significant positive correlation (p<0.001).CONCLUSIONS: Increased hepatic iron deposition may be associated with more advanced hepatic fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. The serum ferritin value, an independent predictor of severe hepatic fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection, may predict hepatic iron deposition and severity of fibrosis.


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