The effect of iron status on vascular health
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The effect of increased iron stores on the progression of atherosclerosis and endothelial health remains inconclusive. This study was designed to evaluate the relationship between hemochromatosis genotypes, serum ferritin levels and presymptomatic vascular abnormalities in a cohort of healthy subjects. Carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and brachial flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) were assessed by high-resolution ultrasound in 907 male (47 +/- 10 years) participants enrolled in the Firefighters and their Endothelium (FATE) study. Analyses of the hemochromatosis C282Y, H63D and S65C alleles were simultaneously determined by a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) primer extension method. It was found that brachial FMD was not related to serum ferritin or hemochromatosis genotype status. The presence of a hemochromatosis-associated genotype (n = 18) or heterozygosity for the C282Y genotype (n = 98) was not associated with an increased mean CIMT. After adjustment for conventional risk factors, serum ferritin was also not associated with mean CIMT. In conclusion, neither ferritin nor a hemochromatosis genotype was related to brachial endothelial function or carotid atherosclerosis. The present study does not support the hypothesis that mild to moderately increased iron stores are associated with enhanced atherosclerosis risk.
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