Invitae Hereditary Hemochromatosis Panel


Test description

The Invitae Hereditary Hemochromatosis Panel analyzes five genes associated with hereditary hemochromatosis (HH), a genetic disorder that causes increased iron absorption and can lead to iron overload. These genes were curated, based on the available evidence to date, to provide a comprehensive test for indications related to hemochromatosis-related iron overload.

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Primary panel (5 genes)


  • Hereditary hemochromatosis type 1
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis type 2A (juvenile)
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis type 2B (juvenile)
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis type 3
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis type 4

Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a genetic condition that affects iron metabolism. It is characterized by an increase in iron absorption by different organs, including the liver, pancreas, heart, and skin, and it may result in iron overload in these tissues. Symptoms of this condition are a result of the iron overload, coupled with the body’s inability to naturally get rid of the excess iron. Early symptoms of HH are often nonspecific and may consist of joint pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, or reduced sex drive. However, people with HH more commonly present with biochemical signs of increased iron absorption (i.e., increased levels of serum ferritin and/or transferrin saturation). Over time, this biochemical profile may lead to iron overload in different organ systems, which may cause clinical signs such as liver disease, diabetes, skin discoloration, heart conditions, or arthritis. The features of HH may be influenced by environmental factors like alcohol use, vitamin C intake, the amount of iron in the diet, and exposure to certain types of bacteria.

Approximately 60% to 90% of patients with hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) have homozygous or compound heterozygous pathogenic variants in the gene HFE, but clinical sensitivity can be dependent on associated symptoms. In patients with juvenile forms of hemochromatosis, disease-causing variants are found in HFE2 at a rate of 90%. Pathogenic variants in HAMP are found less frequently—fewer than 10% of juvenile cases. Digenic inheritance has also been reported in the majority of the HH-related genes. The frequency of pathogenic variants in TFR2 and SLC40A1 is unknown, though patients with a dominant family history are more likely to have an identifiable SLC40A1 variant than those without a family history. Population studies on the prevalence of pathogenic variants in these genes is currently lacking, which makes it difficult to accurately estimate the clinical sensitivity.

HH is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern, except for the subtype hemochromatosis type 4, which is autosomal dominant.

In general, HH type 1 is a low penetrance condition. Of the individuals who are homozygous for the specific pathogenic variant C282Y, 38% to 50% may develop biochemical signs of iron overload, but only 10% to 33% will go on to develop clinical symptoms of hemochromatosis. More men than women develop these symptoms due to the monthly elimination of iron that women experience through menstruation. The average age of onset in men occurs between 40 and 70 years of age while the majority of women do not present until after menopause.

HH types 2A and 2B, the juvenile forms of hemochromatosis caused by pathogenic variants in HFE2 (also known as HJV) and HAMP, have a relatively high but incomplete penetrance. Juvenile HH is associated with an early age of onset (typically before the age of 30), along with a more severe clinical course compared to that seen in other forms of HH. Males and females are equally affected, but there is variable expressivity in terms of symptom severity and age of onset.

HH type 3 has high variability in terms of clinical expression and age of onset. Some patients present early in life, similar to juvenile HH, while others present later in adulthood. HH type 3 is characterized by a slower disease progression and a less severe clinical course compared to juvenile HH—though it is generally more severe than HH type 1. Type 3 frequently presents with arthropathy; occasionally, there is cardiac and endocrine involvement. Its exact penetrance is unknown. This type seems to be most common in those of Italian or Japanese ancestry, but is generally thought to be rare in all populations.

HH type 4 has high but incomplete penetrance. The typical age of onset is in adulthood and the clinical symptoms are relatively mild, similar to what is seen in type 1.

HH is the most common autosomal recessive genetic condition; it is also the most commonly inherited liver disease among Caucasians (particularly in those of northern European descent). Overall prevalence is usually reported as 1 in 250 individuals, with the highest prevalence in Northern European countries. Prevalence of HH in Asian and African countries is low, though large studies of non-HFE HH (i.e., HH that is not a result of a variant in the HFE gene) are lacking. The vast majority of Caucasians who are affected have the most common HH-causing genetic variant, which is associated with HH type 1 (HFE gene). All forms of HH other than type 1 are thought to be very rare (at least clinically), with each type’s prevalence estimated at fewer than 1 individual in 100,000.

Candidates for HH testing include those with:

  • an abnormal blood ferritin and/or transferrin saturation level
  • symptoms of liver disease
  • symptoms of iron overload in other organs such as the heart, pancreas, or skin
  • a family history of HH

  1. Adams, PC, Barton, JC. Haemochromatosis. Lancet. 2007; 370(9602):1855-60. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61782-6. PMID: 18061062
  2. Adams, PC. Epidemiology and diagnostic testing for hemochromatosis and iron overload. Int J Lab Hematol. 2015; 37 Suppl 1:25-30. doi: 10.1111/ijlh.12347. PMID: 25976957
  3. Allen, KJ, et al. Iron-overload-related disease in HFE hereditary hemochromatosis. N. Engl. J. Med. 2008; 358(3):221-30. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa073286. PMID: 18199861
  4. Camaschella, C, et al. Genetic haemochromatosis: genes and mutations associated with iron loading. Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2002; 15(2):261-76. doi: 10.1016/s1521-6926(02)90207-0. PMID: 12401307
  5. Ekanayake, D, et al. Recent advances in hemochromatosis: a 2015 update : a summary of proceedings of the 2014 conference held under the auspices of Hemochromatosis Australia. Hepatol Int. 2015; 9(2):174-82. doi: 10.1007/s12072-015-9608-2. PMID: 25788196
  6. Gehrke, SG, et al. HJV gene mutations in European patients with juvenile hemochromatosis. Clin. Genet. 2005; 67(5):425-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2005.00413.x. PMID: 15811010
  7. Lange, U, et al. [Molecular genetic analysis and clinical aspects of patients with hereditary hemochromatosis]. Orthopade. 2014; 43(8):772-9. doi: 10.1007/s00132-014-2318-y. PMID: 24906241
  8. McDonald, CJ, et al. Iron storage disease in Asia-Pacific populations: the importance of non-HFE mutations. J. Gastroenterol. Hepatol. 2013; 28(7):1087-94. doi: 10.1111/jgh.12222. PMID: 23577916
  9. Merryweather-Clarke, AT, et al. Digenic inheritance of mutations in HAMP and HFE results in different types of haemochromatosis. Hum. Mol. Genet. 2003; 12(17):2241-7. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddg225. PMID: 12915468
  10. Papanikolaou, G, et al. Mutations in HFE2 cause iron overload in chromosome 1q-linked juvenile hemochromatosis. Nat. Genet. 2004; 36(1):77-82. doi: 10.1038/ng1274. PMID: 14647275
  11. Pietrangelo, A. Non-HFE hemochromatosis. Semin. Liver Dis. 2005; 25(4):450-60. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-923316. PMID: 16315138
  12. Santos, PC, et al. Non-HFE hemochromatosis. Rev Bras Hematol Hemoter. 2012; 34(4):311-6. doi: 10.5581/1516-8484.20120079. PMID: 23049448
  13. Wallace, DF, Subramaniam, VN. Non-HFE haemochromatosis. World J. Gastroenterol. 2007; 13(35):4690-8. PMID: 17729390
  14. Whitlock, EP, et al. Screening for hereditary hemochromatosis: a systematic review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann. Intern. Med. 2006; 145(3):209-23. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-145-3-200608010-00009. PMID: 16880463

Assay and technical information

Invitae is a College of American Pathologists (CAP)-accredited and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified clinical diagnostic laboratory performing full-gene sequencing and deletion/duplication analysis using next-generation sequencing technology (NGS).

Our sequence analysis covers clinically important regions of each gene, including coding exons, +/- 10 base pairs of adjacent intronic sequence, and select noncoding variants. Our assay provides a Q30 quality-adjusted mean coverage depth of 350x (50x minimum, or supplemented with additional analysis). Variants classified as pathogenic or likely pathogenic are confirmed with orthogonal methods, except individual variants that have high quality scores and previously validated in at least ten unrelated samples.

Our analysis detects most intragenic deletions and duplications at single exon resolution. However, in rare situations, single-exon copy number events may not be analyzed due to inherent sequence properties or isolated reduction in data quality. If you are requesting the detection of a specific single-exon copy number variation, please contact Client Services before placing your order.

Gene Transcript reference Sequencing analysis Deletion/Duplication analysis
HAMP NM_021175.2
HFE NM_000410.3
HFE2 NM_213653.3
SLC40A1 NM_014585.5
TFR2 NM_003227.3