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Do pregnancies reduce iron overload in HFE hemochromatosis women? results from an observational prospective study

Abstract : BACKGROUND: HFE hemochromatosis is an inborn error of iron metabolism linked to a defect in the regulation of hepcidin synthesis. This autosomal recessive disease typically manifests later in women than men. Although it is commonly stated that pregnancy is, with menses, one of the factors that offsets iron accumulation in women, no epidemiological study has yet supported this hypothesis. The aim of our study was to evaluate the influence of pregnancy on expression of the predominant HFE p.[Cys282Tyr];[Cys282Tyr] genotype. METHODS: One hundred and forty p.Cys282Tyr homozygous women enrolled in a phlebotomy program between 2004 and 2011 at a blood centre in western Brittany (France) were included in the study. After checking whether the disease expression was delayed in women than in men in our study, the association between pregnancy and iron overload was assessed using multivariable regression analysis. RESULTS: Our study confirms that women with HFE hemochromatosis were diagnosed later than men cared for during the same period (52.6 vs. 47.4 y., P < 0.001). Compared to no pregnancy, having at least one pregnancy was not associated with lower iron markers. In contrast, the amount of iron removed by phlebotomies appeared significantly higher in women who had at least one pregnancy (eβ = 1.50, P = 0.047). This relationship disappeared after adjustment for confounding factors (eβ = 1.35, P = 0.088). CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that pregnancy status has no impact on iron markers level, and is not in favour of pregnancy being a protective factor in progressive iron accumulation. Our results are consistent with recent experimental data suggesting that the difference in disease expression observed between men and women may be explained by other factors such as hormones.
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Virginie Scotet, Philippe Saliou, Marianne Uguen, Carine L’hostis, Marie-Christine Merour, et al.. Do pregnancies reduce iron overload in HFE hemochromatosis women? results from an observational prospective study. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, BioMed Central, 2018, 18 (1), pp.53. ⟨10.1186/s12884-018-1684-6⟩. ⟨inserm-01711468⟩

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