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Transferrin (Tf), a glycoprotein of 79.5 kDa, contains two homologous iron-binding domains, each of which binds one Fe3+. Transferrin transports iron in the blood stream and delivers it to various tissues, after binding to a specific receptor (TfR) on the cell surface. After binding to specific cell surface receptors, the ligands follow two different pathways:

1. some are degraded within the cells after dissociation from the receptors and

2. others are not degraded but exocytosed intact into the extracellular space.

This is the fate of Tf that leaves the iron within the cells in endocytosed vesicles and, as apotransferrin, comes back to the membrane.

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Purpose of the test

The Transferrin test measures the amount of the protein transferrin in the blood. Transferrin is produced by the liver and plays a crucial role in transporting iron throughout the body. When the body's iron stores are low, the liver produces more transferrin to increase iron availability in the blood. This test provides insights into the body's iron supply and can help diagnose conditions affecting it.

Who Should Get Tested

Individuals displaying symptoms of anemia, especially iron-deficiency anemia, may need this test. Symptoms can include extreme fatigue, pale skin, dizziness, irritability, headaches, and shortness of breath. Anemia can arise from blood loss, poor iron absorption from food, or during pregnancy.

Blood Test Preparation Guidelines
Time of day
It is recommended to schedule your appointment for blood tests in the morning hours between 7:00-10:00.
It is recommended to fast for approximately 12 hours before blood sampling. The last meal of the previous day should ideally be consumed around 6:00 p.m. On the day before the test, avoid heavy and fatty meals as well as alcohol.
Stay hydrated
Drinking water prior to testing can help with sample collection.
Other factors
Tests should not be performed after a sleepless night or intense physical activity. It is recommended to avoid exercise and stress immediately before blood collection and to not smoke. A short rest is recommended.
Medications and supplements:
Blood samples should be collected before the morning dose. Some drugs can interfere with test results. Consult with your doctor whether you can delay your dose because of lab tests.
Biotin supplements:
High doses of biotin supplements can affect test results, causing false elevation or reduction. It's recommended to avoid taking biotin for at least 72 hours before blood collection. If you are taking biotin, inform the personnel collecting the blood so that they can provide specific instructions.
Interpreting Test Results

Test results are provided in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) for transferrin and micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) for total iron-binding capacity (TIBC). Normal transferrin values range from 215 to 380 mg/dL. Elevated levels might indicate iron-deficiency anemia, while lower levels could suggest liver disease or other conditions. TIBC values between 250 to 450 mcg/dL are considered normal. Another metric, transferrin saturation, assesses the proportion of transferrin binding sites occupied by iron. Normal values range from 15% to 50%. Abnormal values in these tests can help diagnose various health conditions related to iron metabolism.

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