Issue: 2003 > September > original article

Two Dutch families with hereditary hyperferritinaemia-cataract

S. Simsek, P.W.B. Nanayakkara, J.M.F. Keek, L.M. Faber, K.F. Bruin, G. Pals


Hereditary haemochromatosis is an autosomal recessive disorder, leading to progressive iron overload, which is very common among the Caucasian population. In the vast majority of the cases, the hereditary iron overload is caused by mutations in the HFE gene. Most prominently this is the homozygous Cys282Tyr mutation. We report two Dutch families in which both propositi were found to be heterozygous for Cys282Tyr in the work-up of hyperferritinaemia. Frequent phlebotomies had no effect on the ferritin level, but led to microcytic anaemia. Finally, the family history with bilateral cataracts was the clue for the correct diagnosis. Hereditary hyperferritinaemia-cataract syndrome (HHCS) is an autosomal dominant disease characterised by elevated serum ferritin levels and bilateral cataracts in the absence of iron overload. Several point mutations and deletions within the iron-responsive element (IRE) in the 5 noncoding region of the L-ferritin gene have been found in HHCS families. In the first Dutch family a G to C transition at position 32 was found and a G to A mutation at the same location was found in the second Dutch family. In individuals with an isolated hyperferritinaemia (normal transferrin saturation), the presence of early onset (familial) cataract should raise the possibility of HHCS, even when Cys282Tyr heterozygosity is found.