Increased hepatic iron and cirrhosis: No evidence for an adverse effect on patient outcome following liver transplantation



It has been suggested that preexisting severe hepatic iron overload may adversely affect outcome after liver transplantation. The pathogenesis of iron overload in cirrhosis in the absence of hemochromatosis gene (HFE) mutations is poorly understood. The relationships between liver disease severity and etiology, degree of hepatic iron overload, and post-liver transplantation outcome were studied in 282 consecutive adult patients with cirrhosis. Thirty-seven percent of patients had stainable hepatic iron. Increased hepatic iron concentration was significantly associated with more severe liver disease (P < .001), male sex (P = .05), the presence of spur cell anemia (P < .0001), and hepatocellular liver disease (P < .0001). The HFE mutations were uncommon in patients with increased hepatic iron stores. Increased hepatic iron concentration was not associated with greater utilization of resources or a lower survival after liver transplantation. Child-Pugh score at the time of liver transplantation was the only independent variable affecting patient survival (P = .0008). In summary, our data suggest that the severity of the liver disease rather than hepatic iron concentration is the most important determinant of outcome after liver transplantation and that, in general, increasing hepatic iron concentration in cirrhosis is a surrogate marker of the severity of the underlying liver disease.