Iron overload in cirrhosis - HFE genotypes and outcome after liver transplantation

David J. Brandhagen, William Alvarez, Terry M. Therneau, Kent E. Kruckeberg, Stephen N. Thibodeau, Jurgen Ludwig, Michael K. Porayko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Previously, we found appreciable hepatic iron deposition in one third of our patients undergoing liver transplantation (LTx) with approximately 10% of cases having quantifiable iron in the range of that seen in hereditary hemochromatosis (HHC). The aim of this study was to compare clinical outcome in liver transplant patients with and without iron overload. We also sought to determine the prevalence of HFE mutations in liver transplant patients with iron overload. Of 456 consecutive liver transplants, 41 explants had an hepatic iron index (HII) greater than 1.9, and these cases were compared to 41 matched liver transplant recipients without increased hepatic iron. Posttransplantation complications, along with patient and graft survival were monitored. HFE gene testing was performed using DNA-based techniques. Kaplan- Meier 5-year patient survival after LTx was significantly lower in cases with hepatic iron overload compared to matched controls without iron excess (48% vs. 77%; P = .045). Fatal infections (especially fungal) were more common in patients with iron overload (24% vs. 7%; P = .03). Of the 41 patients with a liver explant HII greater than 1.9, only 4 were C282Y homozygotes. Patients with severe hepatic explant iron overload undergoing LTx have a reduced survival compared to liver transplant recipients without explant iron excess. The reduced survival was attributable mainly to fatal bacterial and fungal infections. Despite the iron overload, HFE gene mutations were uncommon in patients with hepatic explant hemosiderosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-460
Number of pages5
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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