Transferrin (TRF)


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Subject: Transferrin (TRF)

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  • Transferrin transports circulating Fe3+ molecules. Normally only about one third of iron-binding sites are occupied (the remainder is called unsaturated iron-binding capacity). The half-life of transferrin is approximately 8–10 days. Plasma levels are regulated primarily by availability of iron, iron deficiency anemia. Plasma levels rise on successful treatment with iron and return to normal.

  • Normal range: 202–336 mg/dL.


  • Differential diagnosis of anemias


Increased In

  • Iron deficiency anemia; inversely proportional to iron stores

  • Pregnancy, estrogen therapy, hyperestrogenism

Decreased In

  • Hypochromic microcytic anemia of chronic disease

  • Acute inflammation

  • Protein deficiency or loss (e.g., burns, chronic infections, chronic diseases [e.g., various liver and kidney diseases, neoplasms], nephrosis, malnutrition)


  • Transferrin in CSF appears in its desialated form, the Tau protein (beta-2-transferin). This form can be identified electrophoretically. The clinical application for identification of Tau protein is in the investigation of rhinorrhea or otorrhea, where its presence confirms the source of CSF leakage through a fracture or operative or traumatic site.

  • Partly desialated transferrin is a marker for heavy alcohol ingestion.