Serum ferritin as a predictor of host response to hepatitis B virus infection

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Science  22 Apr 1983:
Vol. 220, Issue 4595, pp. 423-425
DOI: 10.1126/science.6301008


With hemodialysis patients, a high serum ferritin before there was serological evidence of hepatitis B virus infection increased the likelihood that the infection would be persistent. This finding suggested that hepatitis B virus is likely to infect and actively replicate in liver cells with the propensity for increased ferritin synthesis. The virus itself could stimulate the synthesis of ferritin in a cyclic positive feedback mechanism that increases intracellular ferritin concentration and, eventually, intracellular iron. Transformed liver cells have low iron content, do not replicate hepatitis B virus, and require iron for growth. Infected, nonmalignant liver cells could supply iron to the transformed cells and nourish their expansion.