Alcoholic Hepatitis Mimicking Iron Overload Disorders With Hyperferritinemia and Severely Elevated Transferrin Saturation: A Case Report.

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Iron overload disorders can present as non-specific symptoms and develop gradually but, if untreated, can be very fatal. The common causes include multiple blood transfusions for chronic anemia and increased iron absorption, including hereditary hemochromatosis (HH). HH is one of the common causes of iron overload disorders and usually presents with liver cirrhosis in a setting of significantly elevated ferritin and elevated transferrin saturation. Alcoholic hepatitis is a clinical syndrome of progressive inflammatory liver injury associated with long-term heavy intake of ethanol. However, in patients with alcohol abuse, excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt iron metabolism releasing large amounts of iron into circulation. This can cause severely elevated ferritin due to disruption of iron metabolism, simulating iron overload disorders such as HH, especially if the patient also has liver cirrhosis. Even though a high transferrin saturation of greater than 45% is recommended as a cutoff transferrin value as high sensitivity for detecting iron overload disorders, it has a low specificity and positive predictive value and often identifies people with other causes of acutely elevated ferritin levels such as alcohol liver disease and hepatitis. Recognizing this feature and timely management can spare the patient from unnecessary phlebotomies and prompt treatment for alcoholic hepatitis. We present an interesting case of severe alcoholic hepatitis mimicking HH with severely elevated ferritin levels and transferrin saturation with underlying liver cirrhosis.

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eCollection 2023 Jul