Back to overview

Evaluation of genome-wide loci of iron metabolism in hereditary hemochromatosis identifies PCSK7 as a predictor of liver cirrhosis

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2014
Author Stickel Felix, Buch Stefan,
Project Genetic risk for alcoholic liver disease: in vivo analysis of susceptibility genes
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Human Molecular Genetics
Volume (Issue) 23(14)
Page(s) 3883 - 3890
Title of proceedings Human Molecular Genetics
DOI 10.1093/hmg/ddu076

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have revealed genetic determinants of iron metabolism, but correlation of these with clinical phenotypes is pending. Homozygosity for HFE C282Y is the predominant genetic risk factor for hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) and may cause liver cirrhosis. However, this genotype has a low penetrance. Thus, detection of yet unknown genetic markers that identify patients at risk of developing severe liver disease is necessary for better prevention. Genetic loci associated with iron metabolism (TF, TMPRSS6, PCSK7, TFR2 and Chr2p14) in recent GWAS and liver fibrosis (PNPLA3) in recent meta-analysis were analyzed for association with either liver cirrhosis or advanced fibrosis in 148 German HFE C282Y homozygotes. Replication of associations was sought in additional 499 Austrian/Swiss and 112 HFE C282Y homozygotes from Sweden. Only variant rs236918 in the PCSK7 gene (proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 7) was associated with cirrhosis or advanced fibrosis (P = 1.02 × 10(-5)) in the German cohort with genotypic odds ratios of 3.56 (95% CI 1.29-9.77) for CG heterozygotes and 5.38 (95% CI 2.39-12.10) for C allele carriers. Association between rs236918 and cirrhosis was confirmed in Austrian/Swiss HFE C282Y homozygotes (P = 0.014; ORallelic = 1.82 (95% CI 1.12-2.95) but not in Swedish patients. Post hoc combined analyses of German/Swiss/Austrian patients with available liver histology (N = 244, P = 0.00014, ORallelic = 2.84) and of males only (N = 431, P = 2.17 × 10(-5), ORallelic = 2.54) were consistent with the premier finding. Association between rs236918 and cirrhosis was not confirmed in alcoholic cirrhotics, suggesting specificity of this genetic risk factor for HH. PCSK7 variant rs236918 is a risk factor for cirrhosis in HH patients homozygous for the HFE C282Y mutation.