Iron Metabolism


Section outline

  • Overview: Discussion of the physiology of iron, including iron absorption, transport, recycling, uptake by erythroid progenitors and iron regulation, via the protein hepcidin.
  • Tests related to iron
    • Iron concentrations in blood: How it is measured, interpretation of results.
    • Total iron binding capacity (TIBC): An indirect measure of the iron transport protein, transferrin. How this is measured and interpretation of results.
    • % Saturation of transferrin: The amount of transferrin that is saturated with iron. Iron, TIBC and percentage iron saturation of transferrin are usually offered together as an iron panel versus individual tests. Changes in these three results should be interpreted together.
    • Ferritin: Measurement of the iron storage protein in cells.
    • Fecal occult blood: A test for detecting gastrointestinal hemorrhage (the most common cause of iron deficiency anemia in adult animals).
    • Other tests for iron metabolism: This includes measurement of hemoglobin concentrations in reticulocytes (immature anucleate RBC) for iron deficiency anemia and bone marrow aspirates for assessment of iron stores.