Non-transferrin-bound iron in alcohol abusers

Tullia Maria De Feo, Silvia Fargion, Lorena Duca, Bruno Mario Cesana, Lodovico Boncinelli, Paola Lozza, Maria Domenica Cappellini, Gemino Fiorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Non-transferrin-bound iron, a low-molecular-weight iron complex capable of initiating free radical formation and lipid peroxidation, has been detected in the serum of animals experimentally fed with alcohol, but no data have been reported in alcohol abusers. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether non-transferrin-bound iron is present in chronic alcohol abusers with liver involvement and whether alcohol plays any part in its appearance. Methods: We measured non-transferrin-bound iron in a cohort of chronic alcohol abusers with and without liver cirrhosis at presentation, when 43 were active abusers and 33 were abstainers, and in a smaller group during a follow-up period. Results: At presentation, non-transferrin-bound iron was detectable in 83.7% of active abusers but only in 21.2% of abstainers, and within the group of abusers, patients with cirrhosis had significantly higher non-transferrin-bound iron than patients without. Non-transferrin-bound iron was present not only in patients with transferrin saturation >45% but also in those with transferrin saturation ≤45%. Multiple regression analyses revealed that only alcohol intake and total bilirubin were associated independently with non-transferrin-bound iron values. Longitudinal study confirmed the data of the cross-sectional study. Conclusions: Non-transferrin-bound iron could have a role in initiating or promoting alcohol-induced liver damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1494-1499
Number of pages6
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Alcohol-Induced Liver Damage
  • Alcoholic Cirrhosis
  • Chronic Alcohol Abuse
  • Low-Molecular-Weight Iron Complex
  • Transferrin Saturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology


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