Men With Haemochromatosis Mutations More Likely to Develop Dementia

Pavankumar Kamat

February 04, 2021

New research shows that men with haemochromatosis gene mutations have a greater likelihood of developing dementia. The findings were published in the  Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Researchers at the University of Exeter and the University of Connecticut analysed 2890 UK Biobank participants (1294 men and 1596 women) of European ancestry aged 40-70 years having two faulty haemochromatosis genes (HFE p.C282Y homozygous).

The findings showed that incident dementia was 83 per cent more common in HFE p.C282Y homozygous men (HR, 1.83; P=.003) during a 10.5-year mean follow-up. The same group of men also had a significantly higher risk of developing delirium, itself linked to dementia. Magnetic resonance imaging analyses of 78 of the 1294 men revealed iron build-up in regions of the brain including the hippocampus and thalamus, typically associated with memory.

Dr David Steffens, who co-authored the article, said: “This study adds to the list of modifiable factors that may point to prevention of dementia. If our results are replicated, it may become routine for clinicians to test for hemochromatosis in the evaluation of patients with memory complaints and in the screening of older asymptomatic patients.”

Neil McClements, Chief Executive of the charity Haemochromatosis UK, emphasises the need for screening in relatives of individuals with genetic haemochromatosis.

Atkins JL, Pilling LC, Heales CJ, Savage S, Kuo CL, Kuchel GA, Steffens DC, Melzer D. Hemochromatosis Mutations, Brain Iron Imaging, and Dementia in the UK Biobank Cohort. J Alzheimers Dis. 2021 Jan 03 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.3233/JAD-201080. PMID: 33427739 View abstract

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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