What is transferrin?
Transferrin is a protein component formed in the liver and secreted into the blood, where it is responsible for transporting iron to the various tissues in the body, including red blood cells, which need iron to produce hemoglobin. It helps regulate iron levels in the body and is an important factor in ensuring the body has enough iron to produce hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the blood.
Why is transferrin analyzed?
Transferrin is a protein-binding molecule used to transport iron in the blood. Analyzing transferrin is used to determine iron levels in the blood and to diagnose iron deficiency anemia and other iron-related conditions. By measuring transferrin, one can also assess liver function and the amount of infectious or inflammatory conditions in the body.
What can a low value of transferrin mean?
A low value of transferrin in the blood can indicate a low iron status, which can be a sign of iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is a relatively common form of anemia caused by a lack of iron in the body, which leads to reduced production of hemoglobin and red blood cells.
There are several causes of iron deficiency, including insufficient intake of iron, blood loss, increased need for iron (eg during pregnancy or a growing child) and increased loss of iron (eg during menstruation). An infection or an autoimmune disease can also lead to iron deficiency.
What can a high value of transferrin mean?
An increased production of transferrin can occur in conditions such as increased body demand for iron, e.g. during pregnancy or growth, or in case of iron deficiency anemia where the body tries to compensate for the low iron status.