Blood Cells Mol Dis. 2000 Apr;26(2):163-8. Related Articles, Links

Hereditary hemochromatosis: HFE mutation analysis in Greeks reveals genetic heterogeneity.

Papanikolaou G, Politou M, Terpos E, Fourlemadis S, Sakellaropoulos N, Loukopoulos D.

First Department of Medecine, University of Athens, Athens, Greece.

Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is common among Caucasians; reported disease frequencies vary from 0.3 to 0.8%. Identification of a candidate HFE gene in 1996 was soon followed by the description of two ancestral mutations, i.e., c.845G-->A (C282Y) and c.187C-->G (H63D). To these was recently added the mutation S65C, which may represent a simple polymorphism. The incidence of HH in Greece is unknown but clinical cases are rare. Also unknown is the carrier frequency of the two mutant alleles. A first estimate of the latter is given in the present report. It is based on data from the genetic analysis of 10 unrelated patients of Greek origin who were referred to our center for genotyping and 158 unselected male blood donors. The allele frequencies for the C282Y and H63D mutations were 0.003 and 0.145, respectively. The C282Y allele was detected in 50% of HH patients. This is considerably lower than the frequencies reported for HH patients in the U.S.A. (82%) and France (91 %) and closer to that reported in Italy (64%). Five patients did not carry any known HFE mutation; three may represent cases of juvenile hemochromatosis, given their early onset with iron overload, hypogonadism, and heart disease. We suggest that genetic heterogeneity is more prominent in Southern Europe. It is also possible that the penetrance of the responsible genes is different across the Mediterranean.