Hi, and welcome to this video on transferrin! In this video, we’ll be looking at what transferrin is, what it’s used for, and what values are considered normal.
So, what is transferrin? Transferrin is a glycoprotein, which simply means it’s a protein attached to a carbohydrate. The cool thing about this glycoprotein is that you can figure out what it does just by taking a closer look at its name. Trans means “to move or transfer” and ferrin means “iron”. Transferrin is found in blood plasma and helps to transport or “transfer” iron to important organs in the body, such as the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. It’s important to note that the half-life for transferrin is eight to ten days, which is relatively long.
There are different tests that can be performed to evaluate the transferrin levels in the body. A simple transferrin test measures how much iron is in the blood, a total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) measures the blood’s capacity to bind iron with transferrin, and an unsaturated iron-binding capacity (UIBC) measures the unsaturated binding capacity of transferrin. These tests, which are often ordered together, can help identify iron deficiency, iron deficiency anemia, or too much iron in the body.
The normal range for transferrin is 170 to 370 mg/dL. If you have a higher amount, you may have iron-deficiency anemia. If you have a lower level, you may have another problem, such as liver disease or hemolytic anemia.
One of the earliest stages of iron deficiency is the slow depletion of iron stores. This means there is still enough iron to make red cells but the stores are being used up without adequate replacement. The serum iron level may be normal in this stage, but the ferritin level will be low.
As iron deficiency continues, all of the stored iron is used and the body tries to compensate by producing more transferrin to increase iron transport. The serum iron level continues to decrease and transferrin and TIBC and UIBC increase. As this stage progresses, fewer and smaller red blood cells are produced, eventually resulting in iron deficiency anemia.
On the other hand, if the iron level and transferrin saturation are high; the TIBC, UIBC, and ferritin are normal; and the person has a clinical history consistent with iron overdose, then it is likely that the person has iron poisoning. Iron poisoning occurs when a large dose of iron is taken all at once (acute) or over a long period of time (chronic). Iron poisoning in children is almost always acute, often occurring in children who ingest their parents’ iron supplements. In some cases, acute iron poisoning can be fatal.
Iron overload may also occur in people who have had repeated transfusions. The iron from each transfused unit of blood stays in the body, eventually causing a large buildup in the tissues. Some people that suffer from alcoholism and chronic liver disease may also develop iron overload.
Okay, now that we’ve covered everything, let’s go over a couple of review questions:
1. What is the normal range for transferrin levels?
- 120 to 420 mg/dL
- 140 to 230 mg/dL
- 170 to 370 mg/dL
- 160 to 290 mg/dL
The correct answer is C, 170 to 370 mg/dL.
2. If a patient is suffering from iron-deficiency anemia, their transferrin levels are-
- Higher than normal
- Lower than normal
- Poorly circulate
- The correct answer is A, higher than normal.
That’s all for this review! Thanks for watching, and happy studying!