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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Heme and Nonheme Iron Absorption in Humans Heterozygous for the C282y Hfe Mutation Associated with Hemochromatosis

item Hunt, Janet
item Zeng, Huawei

Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: December 1, 2003
Publication Date: March 23, 2004
Citation: Hunt, J.R., Zeng, H. 2004. Heme and nonheme iron absorption in humans heterozygous for the C282Y HFE mutation associated with hemochromatosis. Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 18:A766-A767.

Technical Abstract: Research conducted before specific genotyping was possible suggested that subjects heterozygous for the genetic mutation associated with hemochromatosis absorbed nonheme iron more efficiently than controls, but only when tested with a fortified meal (Lynch, 1989). Heme iron absorption by these subjects has not been reported. Heme and nonheme iron absorption were determined with radiotracers in 11 subjects heterozygous for the HFE C282Y mutation and 12 wildtype control subjects matched for serum ferritin, sex, age, and BMI. None of the subjects carried the HFE H63D mutation. Absorption by the two genotypes was tested from a hamburger test meal with or without adding 20 mg iron and 100 mg ascorbic acid (2X2 factorial design). HFE C282Y heterozygous subjects did not differ significantly from controls in their absorption of either heme or nonheme iron from either of the test meals. No differences between genotypes were detected in BMI, indices of iron status (including serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, and non-transferrin-bound iron), blood lipids or transaminases, but heterozygous subjects had greater, although normal, fasting glucose than controls (82 vs 74 mg/dL, p<0.05). In conclusion, carriers of the HFE C282Y mutation did not absorb more dietary iron, even when foods were fortified with extra iron and ascorbic acid. Iron fortification of foods does not pose an additional health risk to these people.

Last Modified: 3/27/2015
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