Precocious bilateral hip joint osteoarthritis is a “form-fruste” of the arthropathy of Hereditary Haemochromatosis
Osteoarthritis (OA) of the hip joint is a common disorder, especially in aging peoples of Caucasian descent. Hip OA like OA in other joints is heterogeneous and may manifest in early or late adult life. The aetiology of early onset (precocious) bilateral hip OA is poorly understood, but the clinical and radiological characteristics of this form of OA suggest that chondral resorption due to biochemical or metabolic factors is likely to be of pre-eminent importance. The hip arthropathy which occurs in Hereditary Haemochromatosis (HH) and the ostensibly idiopathic precocious bilateral concentric form of hip OA are virtually indistinguishable. Accordingly, the possibility exists that the causal factors for these conditions may be very similar. On the basis of this premise and in the light of the finding in a small observational study that HFE gene mutations are very common in precocious bilateral hip OA (100% amongst 8 sequentially collected patients), it is hypothesised that precocious bilateral hip OA is a “form-fruste” of the arthropathy of HH in which HFE gene mutation mediated articular iron deposition in hip joint tissues may be of pivotal pathogenetic importance. Confirmation of this hypothesis could have implications for the prevention and strategic medical management of this form of OA.