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Acta Haematol. 2012;127(1):26-30. doi: 10.1159/000330945. Epub 2011 Oct 13.

Glutathionyl hemoglobin is elevated in iron deficiency anemia.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Division of Molecular Medicine, St. Johns National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, India.


There are few good biomarkers of iron deficiency anemia (IDA). Since IDA patients have evidence for increased oxidative stress, we used mass spectrometry (MS) [i.e. matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) and electrospray ionization] to identify novel biomarkers. Using MALDI-MS, the following oxidative modifications of hemoglobin with the following mass-to-charge ratios were identified: 1,087.5 (α32-40), 1,545.7 (α17-31), 1,290.0 (β31-40) and 2,076.1 (β41-59). On electrospray ionization MS, the IDA patients had significantly elevated glutathionyl hemoglobin (GSHb) compared with the controls (16.9 ± 9.6 vs. 7.7 ± 3.7%; p = 0.002). GSHb levels correlated inversely with serum ferritin (Spearman rho -0.485; p = 0.003) and positively with serum transferrin receptor (0.460; p = 0.002). GSHb also demonstrated inverse correlations with hemoglobin (-0.512; p = 0.001), mean cell volume (-0.419; p = 0.026), serum iron (-0.446; p = 0.008) and transferrin saturation (-0.460; p = 0.008). For the first time, we show that GSHb is elevated in patients with IDA and has potential as a biomarker of this form of anemia.

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