Ferritin is a blood test which reflects the availability of iron in the body. Iron is one of the components of haemoglobin (see info on haemoglobin, Hb), so it is important for transporting oxygen in the blood.
Ferritin is an important component in the body's metabolism, and a deficiency in this mineral has a part to play in many disorders.
Significantly elevated levels are particularly seen in fulminant phases of acute myeloid leukaemia, hepatic necrosis, transfusion siderosis and haemochromatosis. High ferritin levels are not necessarily seen in early-stage haemochromatosis. In this case, measuring iron levels may supplement the assessment. Ferritin can be used for effect control when treating haemochromatosis with deferoxamine (Desferal) or venesection.
Levels below the reference range indicate an iron deficiency (depleted iron stores). A low ferritin level indicates a shortage or lack of iron in the body. In the long-term, low iron levels may result in a low haemoglobin level, and hence the risk of impaired oxygen absorption and performance capability.