The clinical measurement of serum transferrin receptor

J Lab Clin Med. 1989 Oct;114(4):368-77.


Monoclonal antibody reagents were used to develop a sensitive enzyme-linked immunoassay for clinical measurement of circulating transferrin receptor. By using transferrin-bound receptor for the preparation of the immunologic reagents, we developed an assay that gives an identical dose-response curve with either free or transferrin-bound receptor. The mean concentration of circulating receptor in 82 normal male and female volunteers was 5.63 +/- 1.42 mg/L. The level was reduced significantly in patients with primary aplastic anemia and post-transplant aplasia (2.58 +/- 1.07 mg/L and 2.32 +/- 0.48 mg/L, respectively) and was sharply elevated in patients with hemolytic anemia and iron deficiency anemia (33.1 +/- 17 and 18.0 +/- 11.4 mg/L, respectively). Our assay values are approximately 20-fold higher than results published previously in a study that used an immunoradiometric assay. The disparity apparently relates to a difference in sensitivity of the latter assay for free and transferrin-bound receptor. Measurements of serum transferrin receptor provide a useful clinical index of either total or iron-deficiency erythropoiesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Aplastic / blood
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / methods*
  • Blood Chemical Analysis / standards
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques* / standards
  • Male
  • Receptors, Transferrin / analysis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Receptors, Transferrin