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Iron-related indexes in chronic alcoholics. Effect of alcohol withdrawal



Iron-related indexes in chronic alcoholics. Effect of alcohol withdrawal



Italian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 30(5): 534-538



Background. Increased serum transferrin saturation and ferritin levels have been reported in chronic alcoholics. Aim. To evaluate modifications in serum iron-related indexes in chronic alcohol abusers with and without cirrhosis, at enrolment and after complete alcohol withdrawal. Patients. Fifty-one consecutive chronic alcohol abusers, 33 without and 18 with cirrhosis. Methods. Liver function tests were performed and transferrin saturation percent and serum ferritin levels measured at time 0 and after 7 and 14 days of complete alcohol withdrawal. Results. Duration of alcohol abuse was significantly longer in patients with cirrhosis than in those without (24 +- 13 SD vs 18 +- 13 SD years, p<0.01). A concomitant increase in transferrin saturation percent and serum ferritin was found in 60% of the cirrhotics and 45% of the non cirrhotic group. During the observation period, transferrin saturation percent and serum ferritin fell significantly in both groups (from 59 +- 33 SD to 36 +- 22% SD, p<0.05, and from 900 +- 933 SD to 469 +- 457 SD ng/ml, p<0.01, in cirrhotics, and from 46 +- 30 SD to 27 +- 12% SD, p<0.01, and from 702 +- 602 SD to 340 +- 290 SD ng/ml, p<0.01, in non cirrhotics). Conclusions. Iron-related indexes increase with chronic alcohol abuse and return to normal rapidly after complete alcohol withdrawal. In chronic alcoholics the timing of determinations of iron-related indexes is crucial, and screening for possible concomitant genetic haemochromatosis must be postponed.

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Accession: 010885553

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PMID: 9836113



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