Frequencies of C282Y and H63D alleles in the HFE gene among various Jewish ethnic groups in Israel: A change of concept required

Orit Reish*, Niva Shefer-Kaufmann, Daphne Chapman Shimshoni, Paul Renbaum, Avi Orr-Urtreger, Hillel Steiner, Micha Rapoport, Ephrat Levy-Lahad, Gheona Altarescu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE:: Hereditary hemochromatosis has not been fully evaluated in the non-Ashkenazi population and is considered to be relatively rare. After ascertaining three unrelated hereditary hemochromatosis families of North African Jewish origin with the HFE C282Y/C282Y genotype, we evaluated the C282Y and H63D allele frequencies among the different Jewish ethnic groups in Israel, in particular North African Jews. METHODS:: Data were collected from three Israeli Medical Centers. North African, Oriental, Yemenite, and Sephardic Jewish healthy individuals were assessed for the C282Y and H63D alleles. RESULTS:: The C282Y allele frequency was 1.02% (6/586 chromosomes), and the H63D allele frequency was 13.82% (81/586 chromosomes) in the North African Jewish group. The C282Y allele was not detected in the other non-Ashkenazi groups. The H63D allele frequency was 12.5% (38/304 chromosomes) in Oriental Jews, 14.9% (14/94 chromosomes) in Yemenite Jews, and 9.3% (11/118 chromosomes) in Sephardic Jews. DISCUSSION:: Hereditary hemochromatosis is underrecognized among North African Jews, who have carrier frequencies of 1/58 and 1/4 for C282Y and H63D, respectively. HFE-hereditary hemochromatosis is not rare among this population as currently thought and merits increased awareness to prevent endpoint disease. The frequent occurrence of β-thalassemia trait and HFE-H63D in non-Ashkenazi Jews raises the possibility of genetic interactions contributing to iron overload when coinherited and requires further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-125
Number of pages4
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Allele frequency
  • HFE gene
  • Hereditary hemochromatosis
  • Non-Ashkenazi Jews
  • Population study


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