Ferritin is a protein molecule that is produced in the liver. It is able to bind large amounts of iron molecules, so it has an essential function in storing iron, thus maintaining the balance of the iron household. It is present in the highest proportion in the tissue iron stores, it occurs in smaller amounts in the blood plasma, but with the help of a blood test it still gives an accurate picture of the amount of iron stored in the body.
What does the test show?
Determining the level of ferritin shows the body’s iron saturation, how much iron reserves the body has, and can also provide information about the extent of iron deficiency. The test is usually performed simultaneously with iron, transferrin, and total iron-binding capacity tests.
In which cases is it recommended to perform the test?
Most often, in case of a blood count indicating low iron deficiency (low haemoglobin and haematocrit levels, smaller and paler red blood cells) or symptoms, the specialist will order the test together with the determination of iron and transferrin levels.
The test can be used to detect lower levels of iron in the body before the symptoms of iron deficiency occur, and thus the disease itself.
What sample is needed for the test?
A blood sample taken from a vein is needed to perform the test.
Having an empty stomach is not required for sampling.
What can the result indicate?
Low ferritin levels indicate depletion of the body’s iron stores, which may be due to iron deficiency anaemia, hypothyroidism, or gluten sensitivity.
Elevated ferritin levels indicate that the body is saturated with iron. It can also be caused by hemochromatosis, inflammatory diseases, and certain types of cancer. Its levels are often elevated even in the case of damage to organs that contain a relatively large amount of ferritin (liver, spleen, bone marrow).
What to do after the test?
The value in the finding can only be interpreted accurately together with the results of other test items, so in all cases, consult the specialist or treating physician who ordered the test to establish the diagnosis and determine the therapy.