Department of Veterans Affairs  •   Puget Sound Health Care System  •  American Lake & Seattle

University of Washington Diabetes Research Group

Study Name: Effects of Iron Overload (Hemochromatosis) on Glucose Metabolism

If you have been diagnosed with iron overload (hemochromatosis) and have not yet started phlebotomy treatment, you may be eligible to be part of a research study to investigate the effects of excess iron and iron depletion on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. Click here for more information about the study.

What is hemochromatosis? This is a condition usually caused by HFE gene defects that lead to increased iron absorption from the gut.

How is iron overload (hemochromatosis) diagnosed? Iron overload is diagnosed by a blood test showing elevated iron saturation (typically >55%) and ferritin level (>200 mg/dl). Genetic testing for HFE gene mutations that can cause hemochromatosis can be performed by your doctor to see if you have the gene defect. If you have the gene mutation, other family members may also be at risk and should be tested.

What are the symptoms of iron overload? Iron overload itself usually causes no symptoms. However, excess iron in the body over time can lead to liver damage, heart damage, damage to the hormone secreting glands in the body, diabetes and joint pains.

What is the treatment for iron overload? Iron overload due to HFE gene mutations is treated with repeated phlebotomy (removal of a pint of blood, like a blood donation). Because red blood cells carry iron, removing the blood removes the excess iron. The number of phlebotomies you might need depends on how much extra iron is in your body.

This study is being conducted by investigators at the University of Washington and the VA Puget Sound Medical Center.

Click here for more details about the study.

study contact:

For more information about the study, contact:

Kristina Utzschneider, MD 206-277-3568