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Soluble Transferrin Receptor - A Marker For Iron Deficiency; A Review

ME Bork, ME Enosolease, LO Omo-Aghoja


Parameters for measuring iron deficiency have been established for decades and have served clinicians in the management of this nutritional disorder. The bone marrow still remains the gold standard in the final diagnosis of iron deficiency. However, researchers have been able to identify the dominating role of the transferrin transferrin receptor complex in the internalization of iron, subsequent to its transport and utilization. The serum transferrin are shed into the blood and its level has been found to correlate with the level of iron stores and thereby the degree of erythropoietic activity. The aim of this literature review is to explore the physical properties of the serum transferrin receptor and its usefulness in the detection of iron deficiency. Literature on the subject was researched using manual library search, articles in journals, internet search such as pubmed, medscape and as well as conference abstracts. Serum transferrin receptor was found to be a reliable marker in the detection of iron deficiency in early pregnancy and other conditions such as patients with chronic renal failure undergoing haemodialysis. Many of the parameters currently being used as markers for iron deficiency have draw backs especially in anaemia that is complicated with other conditions. It has been shown that the concentration of serum transferrin receptors are unaffected by the acute phase reaction seen in many inflammatory conditions. The serum transferrin receptor concentration has been found to correlate well with bone marrow iron stores and red cell indices. However the serum transferrin receptor has not yet been in clinical use in Nigeria and has been mainly in the realms of experiment despite the obvious advantages it presents over the bone marrow aspiration procedure. The procedure for the determination of the serum transferrin receptor concentration is quite easy to understand, the introduction of its estimation into clinical practice will enhance early diagnosis and management of iron deficiency and other related conditions.

Key words: Iron deficiency anaemia, soluble transferrin, serum ferritin

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