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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 14, Suppl D, Pages 89D-92D

Iron and Liver Diseases

Silvia Fargion, Michela Mattioli, Anna Ludovica Fracanzani, and Gemino Fiorelli

Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Università di Milano, Ospedale Maggiore IRCCS, Milano, Italy

Received 4 June 1999; Accepted 8 June 1999

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A mild to moderate iron excess is found in patients with liver diseases apparently unrelated to genetic hemochromatosis. Iron appears to affect the natural history of hepatitis C virus-related chronic liver diseases, alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis by leading to a more severe fibrosis and thus aiding the evolution to cirrhosis.Ahigher frequency of mutations of the HFE gene, the gene responsible for hereditary hemochromatosis, is found in patients with liver diseases and increased liver iron than in normal patients. Patients with excess iron are potentially at a higher risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma. Iron depletion therapy could interfere with fibrosis development and possibly reduce the risk of liver cancer occurrence.