Accuracy of serum transferrin receptor levels in the diagnosis of iron deficiency among hospital patients in a population with a high prevalence of thalassaemia trait

International Journal of Laboratory Hematology
K H OngP Kuperan


The diagnosis of iron deficiency in hospital patients can be difficult in the presence of inflammation. A raised serum transferrin receptor (sTfR) level is useful as a marker of iron deficiency as it is unaffected by inflammation. However, diseases that cause an increase in erythropoietic activity can also result in a raised sTfR level. In South-East Asia, the prevalence of thalassaemia trait is high. As thalassaemia trait is associated with ineffective erythropoiesis and therefore an increase in the sTfR level, we studied the influence of thalassaemia trait on the diagnosis of iron deficiency in hospital patients. Among 431 patients with different combinations of iron deficiency, alpha- and beta-thalassaemia trait, we found that the sTfR level is an excellent diagnostic test for iron deficiency only in patients without thalassaemia trait. alpha-Thalassaemia trait worsened its diagnostic accuracy and beta-thalassaemia trait rendered it a non-diagnostic test. We conclude that in populations with a high prevalence of thalassaemia trait, the sTfR level is not useful in diagnosing iron deficiency unless the patient's thalassaemia status is known.


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Related Concepts

Transferrin Receptor
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Biological Markers
Porphyria, Erythropoietic

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Anemia develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. Anemia of inflammation (AI, also called anemia of chronic disease) is a common, typically normocytic, normochromic anemia that is caused by an underlying inflammatory disease. Here is the latest research on anemia.

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