Ferritin Is a Marker of Inflammation rather than Iron Deficiency in Overweight and Obese People

J Obes. 2016;2016:1937320. doi: 10.1155/2016/1937320. Epub 2016 Dec 27.

Abstract

Background. In clinical practice, serum ferritin is used as a screening tool to detect iron deficiency. However, its reliability in obesity has been questioned. Objectives. To investigate the role of ferritin in overweight and obese people, either as a marker of inflammation or iron deficiency. Methods. On the basis of body mass index (BMI), 150 participants were divided into three equal groups: A: BMI 18.5-25 kg/m2, B: BMI 25-30 kg/m2, and C: BMI > 30 kg/m2. Serum iron, total iron binding capacity (TIBC), transferrin saturation, ferritin, C-reactive protein, and hemoglobin (Hb) were measured for each participant and analyzed through SPSS version 16. One-way ANOVA and Pearson's correlation tests were applied. Results. Ferritin was the highest in group C (M = 163.48 ± 2.23, P < 0.001) and the lowest in group A, (M = 152.78 ± 1.81, P < 0.001). Contrarily to ferritin, transferrin was the lowest in group C, (M = 30.65 ± 1.39, P < 0.001) and the highest in group A, (M = 38.66 ± 2.14, P < 0.001). Ferritin had a strong positive correlation with both BMI (r = 0.86, P < 0.001) and CRP (r = 0.87, P < 0.001) and strong negative correlation with Hb, iron, TIBC, and transferrin saturation (P < 0.001). Conclusion. Ferritin is a marker of inflammation rather than iron status in overweight and obese people. Complete iron profile including transferrin, rather than serum ferritin alone, can truly predict iron deficiency in such people.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Morbid / blood*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult

Substances

  • Biomarkers
  • Ferritins