The non-immune inflammatory response: serial changes in plasma iron, iron-binding capacity, lactoferrin, ferritin and C-reactive protein

Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 1986 Nov;46(7):695-704. doi: 10.3109/00365518609083733.


The interrelationships between various components of the non-immune inflammatory response (white cell count, plasma lactoferrin, C-reactive protein, ferritin, iron and iron-binding capacity), were studied serially in a variety of inflammatory conditions including acute lobar pneumonia, active pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis on gold therapy and sepsis in the face of marrow hypoplasia induced by chemotherapy. Lactoferrin concentrations paralleled the white count in all groups. They were highest in pneumonia and tuberculosis, mildly elevated in rheumatoid arthritis and markedly decreased in neutropenic sepsis. Very high initial lactoferrin concentrations were associated with a poor prognosis in acute pneumonia. C-reactive protein and ferritin concentrations remained elevated through the period of study in acute pneumonia and neutropenic sepsis, while they gradually normalised over weeks in subjects with tuberculosis or rheumatoid arthritis on therapy. In pneumonia and tuberculosis moderate hypoferraemia and a reduced iron-binding capacity were evident. In contrast, a raised percentage saturation was present in neutropenic sepsis, probably related to erythroid marrow suppression. Comparisons between ferritin, lactoferrin and C-reactive protein in the various groups supported the concept that ferritin behaves in part as an acute phase reactant and that hypoferraemia in inflammation is due to deviation of iron into ferritin stores. The suggestion that lactoferrin is responsible for the hypoferraemia and hyperferritinaemia was not supported by the present data. Iron deficiency appeared to limit the hyperferritinaemic response in rheumatoid arthritis, while erythropoietic inhibition by chemotherapy dampened the hypoferraemic response in neutropenic sepsis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Ferritins / blood*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Iron / blood*
  • Lactoferrin / blood*
  • Lactoglobulins / blood*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Pneumonia / blood
  • Sepsis / blood
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / blood


  • Lactoglobulins
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Ferritins
  • Iron
  • Lactoferrin