Increased serum iron and iron saturation without liver iron accumulation distinguish chronic hepatitis C from other chronic liver diseases
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One hundred twenty-three patients with chronic liver diseases of various etiologies were evaluated for their iron status. The patients were divided into four distinct groups: chronic hepatitis C (63), chronic hepatitis B (14), B + C (3) and nonviral chronic liver diseases (43). In 107 patients (87%) the chronic liver disease was confirmed by biopsy. Mean serum iron (±sd) levels in the above four groups were: 166 ± 62, 103 ± 52, 142 ± 48, and 115 µg/dl; iron-binding capacity was 346 ± 80, 325 ± 72, 297 ± 27, and 374 ± 75 µg/dl, and iron saturation 50 ± 18, 32 ± 16, 48 ± 16, and 28 ± 10%, respectively. Serum ferritin, increased in all four groups, was highest in HCV; however, no evidence of hepatic iron accumulation could be found in any of the patients. There were no significant differences in liver function parameters measured in the four groups. We conclude that serum iron, iron saturation, and ferritin are increased in patients with hepatitis C in comparison to hepatitis B or other nonviral, nonhemochromatotic liver diseases. The increased iron status in hepatitis C patients is not manifested by increased liver iron. Awareness of these distinct features of chronic hepatitis C is essential in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic liver diseases.
Key wordshepatitis iron hemochromatosis HCV HBV chronic liver disease
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