Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The C282Y and H63D mutations in the HFE gene are important causes of hemochromatosis. In the elderly, these mutations might be associated with increased morbidity because of the lifelong accumulation of iron. In a population-based sample of the elderly, we determined the value of genotyping for HFE mutations to screen for subclinical hemochromatosis. HFE genotype frequencies were determined in a random group of 2095 subjects (55 years and over). In this random group, we selected within the six genotype groups a total of 342 individuals and measured their serum transferrin saturation, iron and ferritin levels. We also estimated the heritability and parameters needed to evaluate screening, including the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values (PPV, NPV) of HFE genotypes. Iron parameters were significantly increased in subjects homozygous, heterozygous or compound heterozygous. The effect of the mutations was more pronounced in men than in women. For the H63D mutation, an allele dose effect was observed. The HFE gene explained about 5% of the variability in serum iron indices. The PPV for hemochromatosis for the C282Y homozygous was 100% in men and 67% in women. The NPV of the wild-type allele was 97% for both men and women. The sensitivity of both mutations was 70% for men and 52% for women and the specificity was 62% for men and 64% for women. Our study shows that the HFE C282Y and H63D are determinants of iron parameters in the elderly and will be effective in detecting individuals at high risk of hemochromatosis. However, when screening based on these two mutations, some individuals with subclinical hemochromatosis will be missed.

Original publication




Journal article


European journal of human genetics : EJHG

Publication Date





225 - 231


Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Erasmus Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Humans, Hemochromatosis, Iron, Transferrin, Membrane Proteins, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, Electrophoresis, Agar Gel, Sensitivity and Specificity, Gene Frequency, Mutation, Alleles, Aged, Middle Aged, Female, Male, Ferritins, Hemochromatosis Protein