Genetic disorders affecting proteins of iron metabolism: Clinical implications
Remarkable progress is being made in understanding the molecular basis of disorders of human iron metabolism. Recent work has uncovered unanticipated relationships with the immune and nervous systems, intricate interconnections with copper metabolism, and striking homologies between yeast and human genes involved in the transport of transition metals. This review examines the clinical consequences of new insights into the pathophysiology of genetic abnormalities affecting iron metabolism. The proteins recently found to be involved in the absorption, transport, utilization, and storage of iron are briefly described, and the clinical manifestations of genetic disorders that affect these proteins are discussed. This chapter considers the most common inherited disorder in individuals of European ancestry (hereditary hemochromatosis), a widespread disease in sub-Saharan populations for which the genetic basis is still uncertain (African dietary iron overload), and several less frequent or rare disorders (juvenile hemochromatosis, atransferrinemia, aceruloplasminemia, hyperferritinemia with autosomal dominant congenital cataract, Friedreich's ataxia, and X-linked sideroblastic anemia with ataxia).