Blood test

Normal transferrin saturation level in the blood

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Normal transferrin saturation level in the blood

What is the normal transferrin saturation percentage in the blood?

Adult men: 20 - 50%
Adult women: 15 - 50%
Children: 22 - 44%
Newborns: 56 - 74%
Children of 1 year old: 17 - 34%
Children up to 10 years old: 22 - 39%
Children from 10 to 18 years old: 27 - 44%

Why normal levels can differ across different labs?

Each laboratory must establish its own normal ranges for transferrin saturation in the blood. These ranges depend on the makeup of the local population, the technologies used and the accuracy of the measurement. There may be also slight differences in the normal levels according to age, gender, race or ethnic origin, geographic region, diet, type of sample and other relevant status.

Your doctor will study the results along with your medical record, screenings, physical condition, symptoms and any other relevant information about your situation.

What is transferrin saturation?

Transferrin saturation (TS) measures the percentage of iron transported by the transferrin in the bloodstream of the maximum amount that transferrin can transport.

Transferrin saturation is also called transferrin saturation index (TSI) or transferrin saturation percentage (TS %).

Transferrin is a protein that carries iron through the bloodstream. Each transferrin molecule can bind to two atoms of ferric iron (Fe3+). However, it is not common to use all the capacity available. Under normal conditions, only one third of the available capacity is bound to iron, leaving the remaining two thirds in reserve. The percentage of transferrin saturated with iron is what is called transferrin saturation.

Transferrin saturation is directly related to transferrin and iron in the blood. Sometimes to know the transferrin level in the blood is made by an indirect method measuring the TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity).

Depending if transferrin or TIBC is known there are two formulas to estimate the transferrin saturation:

  • Transferrin saturation % = (Iron in the blood / TIBC) x 100
  • Transferrin saturation % = (Iron in the blood / Transferrin) × 70.9

What is transferrin saturation test used for?

The transferrin saturation test is made along with serum iron and transferrin in the blood (or TIBC) because transferrin saturation is the relationship between these two parameters.

The main purpose to measure the transferrin saturation is to detect hemochromatosis, a hereditary disease that causes the accumulation of iron in some organs. If the transferrin saturation is above 50% is a sign of suffering hemochromatosis (even before an iron increase in the blood is noted).

A high percentage of transferrin saturation shows that the supply of iron to the blood is higher than what is needed. In addition to hemochromatosis, it can be seen in case of hemolytic anemia or sideroblastic anemia.

On the contrary, a low percentage of transferrin saturation shows the inability to supply iron to the bloodstream. It may be due to iron-deficiency anemia or anemia of chronic disease.

Where can I find more information about transferrin saturation in the blood?

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Which values are considered a normal transferrin saturation in the blood?

The following values are considered to be normal values:

IMPORTANT: These levels are expressed in %. They are an example of a healthy woman of about 45 years old with a balanced diet, not known disease and not taking any medication. The ranges can be different depending on the laboratory or on your personal circumstances.

Transferrin saturation
Status
Normality
15 %16 %17 %18 %19 %20 %21 %22 %
23 %24 %25 %26 %27 %28 %29 %30 %
31 %32 %33 %34 %35 %36 %37 %38 %
39 %40 %41 %42 %43 %44 %45 %46 %
47 %48 %49 %50 %    
foto de Dr. Javier Muga Bustamante
Written by

Dr. Javier Muga Bustamante

Last update: 23/04/2020

Bibliography

  • Tietz. Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry. Carl A. Burtis, Edward R. Ashwood, David E. Bruns, Barbara G. Sawyer. WB Saunders Company, 2008. Pag 519. ISBN: 978-0-7216-3865-2.
  • Laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures with nursing diagnoses (8th ed), Jane Vincent Corbett, Angela Denise Banks, ISBN: 978-0-13-237332-6, Pag. 39.
  • Kasvosve, Ishmael & Delanghe, Joris. (2002). Total Iron Binding Capacity and Transferrin Concentration in the Assessment of Iron Status. Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine: CCLM / FESCC. 40. 1014-8. 10.1515/CCLM.2002.176. Disponible en: https://www.researchgate.net
  • Ooi, Cara & Lepage, Nathalie & Nieuwenhuys, Ed & Sharma, Ajay & Filler, Guido. (2009). Pediatric reference intervals for soluble transferrin receptor and transferrin receptor-ferritin index. World journal of pediatrics : WJP. 5. 122-6. 10.1007/s12519-009-0024-3. Disponible en: https://www.researchgate.net

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