Iron, Transferrin, Ferritin
These markers are for the evaluation of iron levels in the body. Your body relies on iron in red blood cells to carry oxygen to all its cells. Without enough iron, your red blood cells will be unable to supply enough oxygen. Both high and low iron levels may indicate a serious underlying problem.
Ferritin is a protein found inside cells that stores iron. Ferritin binds to another substance called transferrin. Transferrin is a protein that combines with ferritin to transport iron to where new red blood cells are made. The ferritin levels are depressed when there is a deficiency of storage.
Ferritin levels are more effective in the assessment of iron status as in most instances ferritin levels will drop before serum iron, anaemia or RBC morphology occurs. The body will do whatever it takes to keep serum iron at an optimal level so this makes ferritin the most sensitive test to detect iron deficiency. If a person doesn’t have enough ferritin, iron stores can deplete quickly.
Low levels of ferritin are indicative of iron deficiency, which causes anaemia (a reduction in the number of red blood cells).
Ferritin levels can increase as a result of damage to your organs, such as the liver and spleen. Ferritin is what’s known as an acute phase reactant. This means that when the body experiences inflammation, ferritin levels can also go up. High levels of ferritin can indicate an iron storage disorder, such as hemochromatosis, or a chronic disease process, liver disease, inflammation or malignant disease. In the presence of inflammation, a level of > 100 ug/l generally excludes iron deficiency. The most common causes of elevated ferritin levels are obesity, inflammation, and daily alcohol intake. The most common causes of genetic-related elevated ferritin levels is the condition hemochromatosis.