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Annu Rev Med. 1993;44:63-74.

Serum transferrin receptor.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City 66160-7402.


The transferrin receptor plays a critical role in iron metabolism by precisely controlling the flow of transferrin iron into body cells. A soluble truncated form of the receptor can be detected in human serum using sensitive immunoassays, and the initial clinical experience with this new measurement indicates that it reflects the total body mass of tissue receptor. Serum receptor levels rise significantly with tissue iron deficiency and the heightened demand for iron associated with expansion of the erythroid marrow. The serum receptor provides a quantitative measure of functional iron deficiency and distinguishes the associated anemia from that of chronic disease. If iron deficiency is excluded, the serum receptor provides a quantitative measure of total erythropoiesis that is more sensitive and less invasive than bone marrow examination currently used to assess red cell precursor mass. Performed in conjunction with serum ferritin measurements, the serum receptor will be useful in establishing the true prevalence of iron deficiency anemia in population studies.

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