Iron, ferritin, transferrin, T-sats?!? Iron studies can be confusing…
Iron studies can be confusing, particularly in the context of chronic disease (ferritin is an acute phase protein which rises with inflammation).
The tips and tricks? Ferritin is an excellent marker of iron deficiency, but in the context of acute inflammation iron status is difficult to truly assess. Transferrin-saturation and serum iron can help.
Transferrin-saturation and the ‘iron-binding capacity’ are markers of iron binding. Transferrin is an iron transport protein. The saturation measures how much iron is bound. If the transferrin-saturation is <20% it suggests iron deficiency. If the transferrin-saturation is >50% it suggests iron overload and may be a sign of haemochromatosis (an inherited disorder leading to iron overload).