Recent advances in understanding haemochromatosis: A transition state
Mutations in the hepcidin gene HAPM and the hemojuvelin gene HJV have recently been shown to result in juvenile haemochromatosis (JH). Hepcidin is an antimicrobial peptide that plays a key role in regulating intestinal iron absorption. Hepcidin levels are reduced in patients with haemochromatosis due to mutations in the HFE and HJV genes. Digenic inheritance of mutations in HFE and HAMP can result in either JH or hereditary haemochromatosis (HH) depending upon the severity of the mutation in HAMP. Here we review these findings and discuss how understanding the different types of haemochromatosis and our increasing knowledge of iron metabolism may help to elucidate the host's response to infection.