Hereditary Hemochromatosis via the HFE Gene

  • Summary and Pricing
  • Clinical Features and Genetics
  • Citations
  • Methods
  • Ordering/Specimens
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Test Code Test Copy GenesIndividual Gene PriceCPT Code Copy CPT Codes
1693 HFE$610.00 81479 Add to Order
Targeted Testing

For ordering targeted known variants, please proceed to our Targeted Variants landing page.

Turnaround Time

The great majority of tests are completed within 18 days.

Clinical Sensitivity

Variability in disease penetrance, criteria for diagnosis, and environmental factors contribute to difficulties in determining clinical sensitivity. In patients where HH is clearly defined and other causes of iron overload have been ruled out, clinical sensitivity is >90% in a study of Northern Europeans (Bryant et al. 2008). Analytical sensitivity for detection of causative variants in the HFE gene is >95% as gross gene deletions have been reported in very few cases (Le Gac et al. 2008).

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Deletion/Duplication Testing via aCGH

Test Code Test Copy GenesIndividual Gene PriceCPT Code Copy CPT Codes
600 HFE$990.00 81479 Add to Order
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Turnaround Time

The great majority of tests are completed within 20 days.

Clinical Features

Hereditary Hemochromatosis (HH) is an inherited iron overload disorder which, if untreated, may lead to progressive and potentially fatal organ dysfunction. Chronic iron deposition can result in advanced fibrotic liver disease, cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, atherosclerosis, arthritis, fatigue, diabetes, hypogonadism, cardiomyopathy, and diffuse skin pigmentation. Fatigue, impotence, and arthritis are the most commonly found symptoms (Vujic 2014; Leitman 2013). About 5 in every 1,000 western Caucasians have HH, although the majority are asymptomatic. Disease penetrance is variable with environmental factors such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, excessive alcohol consumption, and viral hepatitis hastening symptom onset. Symptom onset is typically after age 40 with men being more susceptible than women. There are six types of hemochromatosis each due to a different genetic cause: type 1- HFE, type 2- HAMP or HJV, type 3- TRF2, type 4- SLC40A1, type 5- FTH1, and type 6- FTL. Type 1 hemochromatosis is the most prevalent form of the disease and represents >90% of cases (Vujic 2014). Genetic testing can be helpful in differential diagnosis of HH from other liver function disorders and for determining the underlying cause of hemochromatosis (Zarrilli et al. 2013). Phlebotomy is standard treatment to reduce serum iron levels and prevent progressive liver damage.


HH is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner through mutation in the HFE gene. Hemochromatosis may also been inherited in an autosomal recessive mode through mutations in the HAMP, HJV, or TRF2 genes or an autosomal dominant pattern through mutations in the SLC40A1, FTH1, or FTL genes. In patients identified with HH via transferrin saturation analysis, 60% of patients are homozygous for c.845G>A (p.Cys282Tyr), 8% homozygous for c.187C>G (p.His63Asp), and 7% are compound heterozygous for the two variants (de Villiers et al. 1999; Stuhrmann et al. 2010). The p.Cys282Tyr mutation disrupts an internal disulfide bond affecting the tertiary protein structure leading to intracellular degradation (Feder et al. 1996). The c.187C>G mutation (p.His63Asp) is a low penetrant mutation with homozygous individuals largely being asymptomatic (Sham et al. 2000). Other missense and nonsense mutations have been identified in the HFE gene in compound heterozygotes with the p.Cys282Tyr mutation (Piperno et al. 2000). Deletion of the entire HFE gene has been reported in two cases (Le Gac et al. 2008; Pelucchi et al. 2009). The HFE gene encodes the HFE protein which is sequestered by transferrin receptor 1 at the hepatocyte cell membrane to act as an iron sensing complex. In cases of iron overload, the HFE/transferrin complex will upregulate herpcidin expression which functions to regulate iron transport from the gut (Vujic 2014).

Testing Strategy

This test involves bidirectional Sanger sequencing using genomic DNA of all coding exons of the HFE gene plus ~10 bp of flanking non-coding DNA on each side. We will also sequence any single exon (Test #100) or pair of exons (Test #200) in family members of patients with known mutations or to confirm research results.

Indications for Test

Patients with biochemical testing indicating transferrin saturation and elevated serum ferritin are candidates for testing (Qaseem et al. 2005; Sood et al. 2013).


Official Gene Symbol OMIM ID
HFE 613609
Inheritance Abbreviation
Autosomal Dominant AD
Autosomal Recessive AR
X-Linked XL
Mitochondrial MT


Name Inheritance OMIM ID
Hemochromatosis Type 1 235200

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Genetic Counselors
  • Bryant J. et al. 2008. Journal of Medical Genetics. 45: 513-8. PubMed ID: 18310265
  • de Villiers J.N. et al. 1999. Human Molecular Genetics. 8: 1517-22. PubMed ID: 10401000
  • Feder JN, Gnirke A, Thomas W, Tsuchihashi Z, Ruddy DA, Basava A, Dormishian F, Domingo R, Ellis MC, Fullan A, Hinton LM, Jones NL, et al. 1996. A novel MHC class I-like gene is mutated in patients with hereditary haemochromatosis. Nat. Genet. 13: 399–408. PubMed ID: 8696333
  • Le Gac G. et al. 2008. Blood. 112: 5238-40. PubMed ID: 18809761
  • Leitman SF. 2013. Hemochromatosis: the new blood donor. ASH Education Program Book 2013: 645–650. PubMed ID: 24319245
  • Pelucchi S, Mariani R, Bertola F, Arosio C, Piperno A. 2009. Homozygous deletion of HFE: the Sardinian hemochromatosis? Blood 113: 3886–3886. PubMed ID: 19372266
  • Piperno A, Arosio C, Fossati L, Viganò M, Trombini P, Vergani A, Mancia G. 2000. Two novel nonsense mutations of HFE gene in five unrelated Italian patients with hemochromatosis. Gastroenterology 119: 441–445. PubMed ID: 10930379
  • Qaseem A, Aronson M, Fitterman N, Snow V, Weiss KB, Owens DK. 2005. Screening for hereditary hemochromatosis: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of internal medicine 143: 517–521. PubMed ID: 16204164
  • Sham RL, Raubertas RF, Braggins C, Cappuccio J, Gallagher M, Phatak PD. 2000. Asymptomatic hemochromatosis subjects: genotypic and phenotypic profiles. Blood 96: 3707–3711. PubMed ID: 11090050
  • Sood R, Bakashi R, Hegade VS, Kelly SM. 2013. Diagnosis and management of hereditary haemochromatosis. British Journal of General Practice 63: 331–332. PubMed ID: 23735405
  • Stuhrmann M. et al. 2010. European Journal of Human Genetics : Ejhg. 18: N/A. PubMed ID: 20125190
  • Vujic M. 2014. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 5: 42. PubMed ID: 24653703
  • Zarrilli F. et al. 2013. Biomed Research International. 2013: 1-7. PubMed ID: 24222913
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Bi-Directional Sanger Sequencing

Test Procedure

Nomenclature for sequence variants was from the Human Genome Variation Society (  As required, DNA is extracted from the patient specimen.  PCR is used to amplify the indicated exons plus additional flanking non-coding sequence.  After cleaning of the PCR products, cycle sequencing is carried out using the ABI Big Dye Terminator v.3.0 kit.  Products are resolved by electrophoresis on an ABI 3730xl capillary sequencer.  In most cases, sequencing is performed in both forward and reverse directions; in some cases, sequencing is performed twice in either the forward or reverse directions.  In nearly all cases, the full coding region of each exon as well as 10 bases of non-coding DNA flanking the exon are sequenced.

Analytical Validity

As of February 2018, we compared 26.8 Mb of Sanger DNA sequence generated at PreventionGenetics to NextGen sequence generated in other labs. We detected only 4 errors in our Sanger sequences, and these were all due to allele dropout during PCR. For Proficiency Testing, both external and internal, in the 14 years of our lab operation we have Sanger sequenced roughly 14,300 PCR amplicons. Only one error has been identified, and this was an error in analysis of sequence data.

Our Sanger sequencing is capable of detecting virtually all nucleotide substitutions within the PCR amplicons. Similarly, we detect essentially all heterozygous or homozygous deletions within the amplicons. Homozygous deletions which overlap one or more PCR primer annealing sites are detectable as PCR failure. Heterozygous deletions which overlap one or more PCR primer annealing sites are usually not detected (see Analytical Limitations). All heterozygous insertions within the amplicons up to about 100 nucleotides in length appear to be detectable. Larger heterozygous insertions may not be detected. All homozygous insertions within the amplicons up to about 300 nucleotides in length appear to be detectable. Larger homozygous insertions may masquerade as homozygous deletions (PCR failure).

Analytical Limitations

In exons where our sequencing did not reveal any variation between the two alleles, we cannot be certain that we were able to PCR amplify both of the patient’s alleles. Occasionally, a patient may carry an allele which does not amplify, due for example to a deletion or a large insertion. In these cases, the report contains no information about the second allele.

Similarly, our sequencing tests have almost no power to detect duplications, triplications, etc. of the gene sequences.

In most cases, only the indicated exons and roughly 10 bp of flanking non-coding sequence on each side are analyzed. Test reports contain little or no information about other portions of the gene, including many regulatory regions.

In nearly all cases, we are unable to determine the phase of sequence variants. In particular, when we find two likely causative mutations for recessive disorders, we cannot be certain that the mutations are on different alleles.

Our ability to detect minor sequence variants, due for example to somatic mosaicism is limited. Sequence variants that are present in less than 50% of the patient’s nucleated cells may not be detected.

Runs of mononucleotide repeats (eg (A)n or (T)n) with n >8 in the reference sequence are generally not analyzed because of strand slippage during PCR and cycle sequencing.

Unless otherwise indicated, the sequence data that we report are based on DNA isolated from a specific tissue (usually leukocytes). Test reports contain no information about gene sequences in other tissues.

Deletion/Duplication Testing via Array Comparative Genomic Hybridization

Test Procedure

Equal amounts of genomic DNA from the patient and a gender matched reference sample are amplified and labeled with Cy3 and Cy5 dyes, respectively. To prevent any sample cross contamination, a unique sample tracking control is added into each patient sample. Each labeled patient product is then purified, quantified, and combined with the same amount of reference product. The combined sample is loaded onto the designed array and hybridized for at least 22-42 hours at 65°C. Arrays are then washed and scanned immediately with 2.5 µM resolution. Only data for the gene(s) of interest for each patient are extracted and analyzed.

Analytical Validity

PreventionGenetics' high density gene-centric custom designed aCGH enables the detection of relatively small deletions and duplications within a single exon of a given gene or deletions and duplications encompassing the entire gene. PreventionGenetics has established and verified this test's accuracy and precision.

Analytical Limitations

Our dense probe coverage may allow detection of deletions/duplications down to 100 bp; however due to limitations and probe spacing this cannot be guaranteed across all exons of all genes. Therefore, some copy number changes smaller than 100-300 bp within a targeted large exon may not be detected by our array.

This array may not detect deletions and duplications present at low levels of mosaicism or those present in genes that have pseudogene copies or repeats elsewhere in the genome.

aCGH will not detect balanced translocations, inversions, or point mutations that may be responsible for the clinical phenotype.

Breakpoints, if occurring outside the targeted gene, may be hard to define.

The sensitivity of this assay may be reduced when DNA is extracted by an outside laboratory.

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Ordering Options

myPrevent - Online Ordering
  • The test can be added to your online orders in the Summary and Pricing section.
  • Once the test has been added log in to myPrevent to fill out an online requisition form.
  • A completed requisition form must accompany all specimens.
  • Billing information along with specimen and shipping instructions are within the requisition form.
  • All testing must be ordered by a qualified healthcare provider.


(Delivery accepted Monday - Saturday)

  • Collect 3 ml -5 ml (5 ml preferred) of whole blood in EDTA (purple top tube) or ACD (yellow top tube). For Test #500-DNA Banking only, collect 10 ml -20 ml of whole blood.
  • For small babies, we require a minimum of 1 ml of blood.
  • Only one blood tube is required for multiple tests.
  • Ship blood tubes at room temperature in an insulated container. Do not freeze blood.
  • During hot weather, include a frozen ice pack in the shipping container. Place a paper towel or other thin material between the ice pack and the blood tube.
  • In cold weather, include an unfrozen ice pack in the shipping container as insulation.
  • At room temperature, blood specimen is stable for up to 48 hours.
  • If refrigerated, blood specimen is stable for up to one week.
  • Label the tube with the patient name, date of birth and/or ID number.


(Delivery accepted Monday - Saturday)

  • Send in screw cap tube at least 5 µg -10 µg of purified DNA at a concentration of at least 20 µg/ml for NGS and Sanger tests and at least 5 µg of purified DNA at a concentration of at least 100 µg/ml for gene-centric aCGH, MLPA, and CMA tests, minimum 2 µg for limited specimens.
  • For requests requiring more than one test, send an additional 5 µg DNA per test ordered when possible.
  • DNA may be shipped at room temperature.
  • Label the tube with the composition of the solute, DNA concentration as well as the patient’s name, date of birth, and/or ID number.
  • We only accept genomic DNA for testing. We do NOT accept products of whole genome amplification reactions or other amplification reactions.


(Delivery preferred Monday - Thursday)

  • PreventionGenetics should be notified in advance of arrival of a cell culture.
  • Culture and send at least two T25 flasks of confluent cells.
  • Some panels may require additional flasks (dependent on size of genes, amount of Sanger sequencing required, etc.). Multiple test requests may also require additional flasks. Please contact us for details.
  • Send specimens in insulated, shatterproof container overnight.
  • Cell cultures may be shipped at room temperature or refrigerated.
  • Label the flasks with the patient name, date of birth, and/or ID number.
  • We strongly recommend maintaining a local back-up culture. We do not culture cells.
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