Plasma transferrin is the iron-binding protein; a glycoprotein of 79.57 kD, its gene being located on chromosome 3q21; it is generated mainly by liver parenchymal cells . Transferrin has two iron binding sites, each binding the ferric ion (Fe3 +). Normally, only one third of the transferrin binding sites are occupied.

Unlike sideremia, which shows large diurnal variation, serum transferrin level is more constant. Transferrin delivers iron to erythroid precursors and other cells by binding to specific receptors on the cell surface.

Recommendations for determining transferrin (serum iron and ferritin in combination with):

• Differential diagnosis of anemia, especially microcytic and / or hypochromic

• Evaluation of iron deficiency anemia, thalassemia, sideroblastic anemia

• The diagnosis of iron overload and hemochromatosis.

Reference values:

Transferrin 200-360 mg / dL.

Transferrin saturation of 16-45%.

Interpretation of results – transferrin


• iron deficiency anemia, • pregnancy • oral contraceptives (TFS is normal).


• Anemia in chronic disease (sometimes transferrin may be normal), sideroblastic anemia • (sometimes transferrin may be normal), • hemolytic anemia (sometimes transferrin may be normal) • Protein deficiency: malnutrition or increased loss (burns syndrome nephrotic liver disease), • acute liver disease, congenital atransferinemia •, • iron overload syndromes, hemochromatosis (slightly lower).