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Concept: Total iron-binding capacity


There is increasing evidence from clinical and population studies for a role of H. pylori infection in the aetiology of iron deficiency. Rodent models of Helicobacter infection are helpful for investigating any causal links and mechanisms of iron deficiency in the host. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of gastric Helicobacter infection on iron deficiency and host iron metabolism/transport gene expression in hypergastrinemic INS-GAS mice. INS-GAS mice were infected with Helicobacter felis for 3, 6 and 9 months. At post mortem, blood was taken for assessment of iron status and gastric mucosa for pathology, immunohistology and analysis of gene expression. Chronic Helicobacter infection of INS- GAS mice resulted in decreased serum iron, transferrin saturation and hypoferritinemia and increased Total iron binding capacity (TIBC). Decreased serum iron concentrations were associated with a concomitant reduction in the number of parietal cells, strengthening the association between hypochlorhydria and gastric Helicobacter-induced iron deficiency. Infection with H. felis for nine months was associated with decreased gastric expression of iron metabolism regulators hepcidin, Bmp4 and Bmp6 but increased expression of Ferroportin 1, the iron efflux protein, iron absorption genes such as Divalent metal transporter 1, Transferrin receptor 1 and also Lcn2 a siderophore-binding protein. The INS-GAS mouse is therefore a useful model for studying Helicobacter-induced iron deficiency. Furthermore, the marked changes in expression of gastric iron transporters following Helicobacter infection may be relevant to the more rapid development of carcinogenesis in the Helicobacter infected INS-GAS model.

Concepts: Gene, Helicobacter pylori, Transferrin, Human iron metabolism, Transferrin saturation, Serum iron, Iron metabolism, Total iron-binding capacity


AIMS: Acute Helicobacter pylori infection is associated with transient hypochlorhydria. In H pylori-associated atrophy, hypochlorhydria has a role in iron deficiency (ID) through changes in the physiology of iron-complex absorption. The aims were to evaluate the association between H pylori-associated hypochlorhydria and ID in children. METHODS: Symptomatic children (n=123) were prospectively enrolled. Blood, gastric juice and gastric biopsies were taken, respectively, for haematological analyses, pH assessment and H pylori determination, and duodenal biopsies for exclusion of coeliac disease. Stool samples were collected for parasitology/microbiology. Thirteen children were excluded following parasitology and duodenal histopathology, and five due to impaired blood analysis. RESULTS: Ten children were hypochlorhydric (pH>4) and 33 were H pylori positive. In H pylori-positive children with pH>4 (n=6) serum iron and transferrin saturation levels % were significantly lower (p<0.01) than H pylori-positive children with pH≤4. No differences in ferritin, or total iron binding capacity, were observed. In H pylori-negative children with pH>4, iron and transferrin saturation were not significantly different from children with pH≤4. CONCLUSIONS: Low serum iron and transferrin in childhood H pylori infection is associated with hypochlorhydria. In uninfected children, hypochlorhydria was not associated with altered serum iron parameters, indicating a combination of H pylori infection and/or inflammation, and hypochlorhydria has a role in the aetiology of ID. Although H pylori-associated hypochlorhydria is transient during acute gastritis, this alters iron homeostasis with clinical impact in developing countries with a high H pylori prevalence.

Concepts: Gastroenterology, Stomach, Helicobacter pylori, Iron deficiency anemia, Gastritis, Transferrin, Transferrin saturation, Total iron-binding capacity


Anemia often complicates the course of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Hepcidin, a liver-produced peptide hormone, is a key mediator of anemia of chronic disease (ACD). We hypothesized that hepcidin is significantly elevated in anemic CD patients and that hepcidin may cause iron restriction and, therefore, mediate ACD. METHODS: We enrolled 17 patients with CD and ACD recruited from the Cedars-Sinai IBD Center. Routine blood tests included hemoglobin (Hgb), hematocrit, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Anemia was defined as hemoglobin <12g/dL and <13.5g/dL, in men and women, respectively. ACD was diagnosed on the basis of a combination of the following: a) normal or elevated ferritin b) lowered serum iron and total iron binding capacity and c) normal percent iron saturation. Serum and urine hepcidin, as well as IL-6 levels were also measured. Patients with documented iron-deficiency anemia were excluded. RESULTS: There was an excellent correlation between urine (expressed as ng/mg of creatinine) and serum hepcidin levels expressed as ng/ml (r=0.853, p<0.001). We also found a strong positive correlation between serum hepcidin and ferritin levels (r=0.723, p=0.0015). There was a positive correlation between serum hepcidin and IL-6 levels (r=0.546, p=0.023). We found a strong negative correlation between serum hepcidin concentrations and Hgb levels (r=0.528, p=0.029). CONCLUSION: We demonstrate that ACD in CD is characterized by high serum IL-6 and hepcidin levels, which negatively correlate with Hgb levels. Our data support the hypothesis that IL-6-driven hepcidin production mediates ACD in patients with CD.

Concepts: Hemoglobin, Red blood cell, Anemia, Inflammatory bowel disease, Iron deficiency anemia, Transferrin, Ferritin, Total iron-binding capacity


Two reference measurement procedures are presented here that allow the determination of the iron saturation in human transferrin, based on different molecular properties. The results, directly derived from the number of ions bound to the protein molecule, are traceable to the SI. Up to now, the iron saturation has only been deduced indirectly from the amount-of-substance ratio of serum iron to transferrin in serum. Interlaboratory tests have shown the need for more accurate methods, as the results from many participant test samples for both parameters do not lie within the acceptable range of deviation given by relevant guidelines when different methods or kits are applied. Using isotope dilution, an HPLC ICP-MS procedure was developed in compliance with the requirements of a primary reference measurement procedure. In this manner, the iron saturation was measured with an associated relative expanded measurement uncertainty of 4%. Based on the results, a straightforward Raman procedure was evolved, which allows the determination of the iron saturation in transferrin with an associated relative expanded uncertainty of 7%.

Concepts: Oxygen, Measurement, Metrology, Test method, Uncertainty, Transferrin, Transferrin saturation, Total iron-binding capacity


Background. Unbound iron binding capacity (UIBC) in serum, which is s-total iron binding capacity (2 times s- transferrin) minus s-iron, may be a more accurate marker of empty iron stores than serum transferrin saturation. Previously we have shown this for healthy females of childbearing age. Methods. Now we used receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis to compare the diagnostic accuracy of s-iron, s-transferrin, s-transferrin saturation and s-UIBC in diagnosing empty iron stores in 29,251 female and 19,652 male outpatients. Empty iron stores were defined as s-ferritin less than 10, 15 or 20 μg/L. Results. At all definitions of empty iron stores s-UIBC had a better diagnostic accuracy than the other tests in both male and female outpatients, with an area under the ROC curve of 0.85-0.97. Also in subpopulations with elevated s-CRP or low b-hemoglobin s-UIBC was more accurate than the other tests. All tests performed better in males than in females, and generally they were more accurate in adults than in children. Conclusion. When diagnosing empty iron stores calculation of s-UIBC is a better way to utilize the information in s-iron and s-transferrin than the calculation of s-transferrin saturation.

Concepts: Male, Female, Receiver operating characteristic, Transferrin, Transferrin saturation, Serum iron, Total iron-binding capacity


Iron and the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin, major determinant of body iron distribution, are hypothesized to play a role in cardiovascular disease. Here, we assess the associations of hepcidin as well as ferritin, iron, total iron-binding capacity, and transferrin saturation (ie, iron parameters) with noninvasive measurements of atherosclerosis in men and women of a population-based cohort.

Concepts: Blood vessel, Cardiovascular disease, Gender role, Transferrin, Transferrin saturation, Serum iron, Iron metabolism, Total iron-binding capacity


Fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23) circulates as active protein and inactive fragments. Low iron status increases FGF23 gene expression, and iron deficiency is common. We hypothesized that in healthy premenopausal women, serum iron influences C-terminal and intact FGF23 concentrations, and that iron and FGF23 associate with bone mineral density (BMD). Serum iron, iron binding capacity, percent iron saturation, phosphorus, and other biochemistries were measured in stored fasting samples from healthy premenopausal white (n=1898) and black women (n=994), age 20-55years. Serum C-terminal and intact FGF23 were measured in a subset (1631 white and 296 black women). BMD was measured at the lumbar spine and femur neck. Serum phosphorus, calcium, alkaline phosphatase and creatinine were lower in white women than black women (p<0.001). Serum iron (p<0.0001) and intact FGF23 (p<0.01) were higher in white women. C-terminal FGF23 did not differ between races. Phosphorus correlated with intact FGF23 (white women, r=0.120, p<0.0001; black women r=0.163, p<0.01). However, phosphorus correlated with C-terminal FGF23 only in black women (r=0.157, p<0.01). Intact FGF23 did not correlate with iron. C-terminal FGF23 correlated inversely with iron (white women r=-0.134, p<0.0001; black women r=-0.188, p<0.01), having a steeper slope at iron <50 mcg/dl than >50 mcg/dl. Longitudinal changes in iron predicted changes in C-terminal FGF23. Spine BMD correlated with iron negatively (r=-0.076, p<0.01) in white women; femur neck BMD correlated with iron negatively (r=-0.119, p<0.0001) in black women. Both relationships were eliminated in weight-adjusted models. BMD did not correlate with FGF23. Serum iron did not relate to intact FGF23, but was inversely related to C-terminal FGF23. Intact FGF23 correlated with serum phosphorus. In weight-adjusted models, BMD was not related to intact FGF23, C-terminal FGF23 or iron. The influence of iron on FGF23 gene expression is not important in determining bone density in healthy premenopausal women.

Concepts: Black people, Transferrin, Total iron-binding capacity


Vitamin D may influence iron metabolism and erythropoiesis, whereas iron is essential for vitamin D synthesis. We examined whether vitamin D deficiencies (VDD) are associated with reduced iron status and whether progressive iron deficiency (ID) is accompanied by inferior vitamin D status. The study included 219 healthy female (14-34 years old) athletes. VDD was defined as a 25(OH)D concentration < 75 nmol/L. ID was classified based on ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), total iron binding capacity (TIBC) and blood morphology indices. The percentage of ID subjects was higher (32%) in the VDD group than in the 25(OH)D sufficient group (11%) (χ² = 10.6; p = 0.001). The percentage of VDD subjects was higher (75%) in the ID than in the normal iron status group (48%) (χ² = 15.6; p = 0.001). The odds ratios (ORs) for VDD increased from 1.75 (95% CI 1.02-2.99; p = 0.040) to 4.6 (95% CI 1.81-11.65; p = 0.001) with progressing iron deficiency. ID was dependent on VDD in both VDD groups (25(OH)D < 75 and < 50 nmol/L). The ID group had a lower 25(OH)D concentration (p = 0.000). The VDD group had lower ferritin (p = 0.043) and iron (p = 0.004) concentrations and higher values of TIBC (p = 0.016) and sTfR (p = 0.001). The current results confirm the association between vitamin D and iron status in female athletes, although it is difficult to assess exactly which of these nutrients exerts a stronger influence over the other.

Concepts: Iron, Iron deficiency anemia, Transferrin, Transferrin saturation, Iron deficiency, Serum iron, Iron metabolism, Total iron-binding capacity


The transferrin saturation (TSAT) ratio is a commonly used indicator of iron deficiency and iron overload in clinical practice but precise relationships with total and cardiovascular mortality are unclear.Purpose: To better understand this relationship, we explored the association of TSAT ratio (serum iron/total iron binding capacity) with mortality in the general population.

Concepts: Iron, Iron deficiency anemia, Transferrin, Transferrin saturation, Iron deficiency, Serum iron, Iron metabolism, Total iron-binding capacity


The link between iron intake as well as body iron stores and coronary heart disease (CHD) has been contentiously debated, and the epidemiologic evidence is inconsistent. We aimed to quantitatively summarize the literature on the association between dietary iron intake/body iron stores and CHD risk by conducting a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. PubMed was used to find studies published through June 2013 in peer-reviewed journals. Embase or a hand search of relevant articles was used to obtain additional articles. The pooled RRs of CHD incidence and mortality with 95% CIs were calculated by using either a random-effects or fixed-effects model, as appropriate. Twenty-one eligible studies (32 cohorts) including 292,454 participants with an average of 10.2 y of follow-up were included. Heme iron was found to be positively associated with CHD incidence (RR: 1.57; 95% CI: 1.28, 1.94), whereas total iron was inversely associated (RR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.73, 0.999). Neither heme-iron nor total iron intakes were significantly associated with CHD mortality. Both transferrin saturation and serum iron were inversely related to CHD incidence [RR (95% CI): 0.76 (0.66, 0.88) and 0.68 (0.56, 0.82), respectively], but only transferrin saturation was inversely associated with CHD mortality (RR: 0.85; 95% CI: 0.73, 0.99). In conclusion, total iron intake and serum iron concentrations were inversely associated with CHD incidence, but heme iron intake was positively related to CHD incidence. Elevated serum transferrin saturation concentration was inversely associated with both CHD incidence and mortality. Future research is needed to establish the causal relation and to elucidate potential mechanisms.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Iron, Iron deficiency anemia, Transferrin, Iron deficiency, Serum iron, Iron metabolism, Total iron-binding capacity