Dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia is associated with normal transferrin saturation, mild hepatic iron overload, and elevated hepcidin
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Hyperferritinemia is common in individuals with the metabolic syndrome (dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia), but its pathophysiology and the degree to which it reflects tissue iron overload remains unclear. We conducted a cross-sectional study evaluating ten cases with dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia for liver iron overload and compared their serum iron indices and urine hepcidin levels to healthy controls. Seven out of ten cases had mild hepatic iron overload by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (median, 75 μmol/g dry weight). Cases had higher serum ferritin than controls (median, 672 μg/L vs. 105 μg/L, p < 0.001), but the median transferrin saturation was not significantly different (38% vs. 36%, p = 0.5). Urinary hepcidin was elevated in dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia (median; 1,584 ng/mg of creatinine vs. 799 ng/mg of creatinine, p = 0.05). Dysmetabolic hyperferritinemia is characterized by hyperferritinemia with normal transferrin saturation, elevated hepcidin levels, and mild liver iron overload in a subset of patients.