Quantitative Study of the Variability of Hepatic Iron Concentrations
Background: The hepatic iron concentration (HIC) is widely used in clinical practice and in research; however, data on the variability of HIC among biopsy sites are limited. One aim of the present study was to determine the variability of HIC within both healthy and cirrhotic livers. Methods: Using colorimetric methods, we determined HIC in multiple large (microtome) and small (biopsy-sized) paraffin-embedded samples in 11 resected livers with end-stage cirrhosis. HIC was also measured in
... o measured in multiple fresh samples taken within 5 mm of each other ("local" samples) and taken at sites 3–5 cm apart ("remote" samples) from six livers with end-stage cirrhosis and two healthy autopsy livers. Results: The within-organ SD of HIC was 13–1553 μg/g (CV, 3.6–55%) for microtome samples and 60–2851 μg/g (CV, 15–73%) for biopsy-sized samples. High variability of HIC was associated with mild to moderate iron overload, because the HIC SD increased with increasing mean HIC (P <0.002). Livers with mean HIC >1000 μg/g exhibited significant biological variability in HIC between sites separated by 3–5 cm (remote sites; P <0.05). The SD was larger for biopsy-sized samples than for microtome samples (P = 0.02). Conclusion: Ideally, multiple hepatic sites would be sampled to obtain a representative mean HIC.