Our body needs iron absorbed from food. Transferrin is a protein mainly produced in the liver that binds iron and carries it to tissues and cells. Transferrin carries approximately 80% of iron to bone marrow. From there, it is transported to haemoglobin in the red blood cells. The rest of the iron is stored in cells and tissues as ferritin (S-Ferrit) or hemosiderin (Hemsi).
Because red blood cells live for approximately 120 days, bone marrow has to continuously produce new red blood cells. If you do not get enough iron from food or in case of bleeding, for example, the amount of iron stored in the body decreases. In time, this leads to iron deficiency. Red blood cell production is decreased, and the new red cells are smaller and contain less haemoglobin. This leads to iron deficiency anaemia.
When should transferrin be measured?
A transferrin test is used when it is suspected that there is too much or too little iron in the body. It is also used to investigate anaemias and iron storage disease. Transferrin level decreases in connection with inflammation. A transferrin test is recommended in case of following symptoms, for example:
- Low haemoglobin (Hb)
- Small red blood cells (low MCV)
What does a transferrin test measure?
The study measures the amount of transferrin in blood.
How to interpret the transferrin test result?
Normally, the result is:
- 1,7 - 3,1 g/l
Please contact your physician or other healthcare professional if you suspect an illness or need help interpreting the results.
The reference values of this examination have changed 11.10.2021. You will find your own result's reference values from My LOUNA in touch with the graph. Read more about defining reference values.
What can cause elevated transferrin values?
Elevated transferrin values occur, for example, in the following situations:
- Iron deficiency anaemia (high transferrin but low transferrin saturation)
- Use of iron preparations
- Use of contraceptive pills
- Inflammatory diseases of the liver
What can cause decreased transferrin values?
Low transferrin values occur, for example, in the following situations:
- Chronic liver disease
- Renal failure (proteins, including transferrin, are leaked into urine)
- Malignant tumours
The most typical additional tests for transferrin:
- Complete blood count (CBC), shows the number of red and white blood cells, number of platelets and cell type (3696 B-TVK)
- Transferrin receptor, soluble, carries iron into cells and tissues (1949 S -TfR)
- Ferritin indicates the status of the iron reserves of the body (1395 S-Ferrit)
- All cells in the body need iron (2566 fS-Fe)
SYNLAB test list: Transferrin (2756 fS-Transf), Transferrin saturation (4606 fS-TrFeSat, fS-Fe, fS-Transf) https://www.yml.fi/tuotekuvaus_show.php?tuotenro=347
Lab Tests online: TIBC, UIBC and Transferrin [https://labtestsonline.org.uk/tests/tibc-uibc-and-transferrin]
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