Background: Hemopexin is a heme-binding plasma glycoprotein which, after haptoglobin, forms the second line of defense against hemoglobin-mediated oxidative damage during intravascular hemolysis. A decrease in plasma hemopexin concentration reflects a recent release of heme compounds in the extracellular compartment. Heme-hemopexin complexes are delivered to hepatocytes by receptor-mediated endocytosis after which hemopexin is recycled to the circulation.
Methods of analysis: Immunonephelometric and -turbidimetric hemopexin assays are available as more precise and rapid alternatives to the radial immunodiffusion technique.
Interpretations: Hemopexin determinations are not subject to interference by in vitro hemolysis. Altered serum or plasma concentrations of hemopexin are found not only in hemolytic anemias but also in other conditions such as chronic neuromuscular diseases and acute intermittent porphyria. In laboratory medicine, while hemopexin determination in tandem with haptoglobin has potential applications in the assessment of intravascular hemolysis and allows for the monitoring of the severity of hemolysis after depletion of haptoglobin, its diagnostic utility is less clear in other pathological conditions. Further studies are necessary to fully establish the clinical significance of hemopexin determination.