Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
QJM. 1999 Oct;92(10):587-94.

Serum transferrin receptor assay in iron deficiency anaemia and anaemia of chronic disease in the elderly.

Author information

  • 1Department of Geriatric Medicine, University Hospital, Aintree, Liverpool, UK.


The most common cause of anaemia in the elderly is anaemia of chronic disease (ACD). However, iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) may coexist, and can be difficult to diagnose. The serum transferrin receptor (sTfR) blood test may be a better indicator of iron status as it is not affected by inflammation nor by advancing age. We evaluated it in four groups (10 males, 10 females each): 'young' controls, 'elderly' controls, IDA and ACD. All patients in the IDA group had elevated sTfR levels (mean +/- SD 65.2 +/- 17.7 nmol/l). All 'young' controls had normal sTfR (22.3 +/- 7.3 nmol/l) and ferritin levels (92.7 +/- 61.1 micrograms/l). Although all subjects in the 'elderly' controls and ACD group had normal, and raised or normal serum ferritin, respectively (88 +/- 62.3 micrograms/l; 631.2 +/- 509.5 micrograms/l), three (15%) 'elderly' controls and four (20%) ACD patients had raised sTfR levels, suggesting depleted iron stores. Bone-marrow aspirates were available in 3/4 ACD patients with raised sTfR. Haemosiderin was absent in two. The sTfR blood test is comparable to serum ferritin in diagnosing IDA in the elderly but also seems capable of differentiating ACD from IDA. Its potential as a non-invasive test of iron status, especially in elderly anaemic patients, deserves further evaluation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Support Center