What is Transferrin Saturation?
A transferrin saturation test is performed to detect the iron-binding capacity of transferrin. Transferrin is a protein present in the blood plasma that binds with iron to transport to the liver, bone marrow and spleen, through blood. So, a low transferrin saturation implies that not enough iron-binding sites of transferrin are being occupied by iron. Anemia can be caused by low transferrin saturation, which can again be caused by malignancy or infection of some sort. If the transferrin saturation is high, it may be a symptom of hemochromatosis.
Why is Transferrin Saturation done?
A transferrin saturation test is ordered when iron deficiency or iron overload is suspected. The symptoms of iron deficiency are dizziness, headaches, chronic fatigue, pale skin color etc. The symptoms of iron overload are joint pain, weakness, abdominal pain, abnormal heart rhythm, weight loss. Whenever a person shows such symptoms, he/she is prescribed the test.
Interpreting Transferrin Saturation results
In healthy adults, the transferrin saturation is supposed to be in the range of 20%-50%. A number lower or greater than that implies iron deficiency or iron overload respectively.