Ferritin - plasma or serum

Last updated: Friday, 04, June, 2010
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Item Process
Specimen5 mL blood in lithium heparin or plain tube.


Reference Interval

Levels are age and gender dependent.

Adult female:15-200 µg/L; following the menopause, levels progressively approach those for adult males.
Adult male: 30-300 µg/L.


Investigation of suspected iron deficiency or iron overload.


Levels are considered to reflect bone marrow iron stores.

Decreased levels indicate iron deficiency. Levels of up to 100 µg/L may be found in patients with iron deficiency when this co-exists with inflammation, liver disease or malignancy (acute phase response) as these disorders increase ferritin above basal levels. In these cases the ratio of ferritin to soluble transferrin receptors gives better discrimination.

Increased levels occur with iron overload (haemochromatosis and haemosiderosis) but transferrin saturation is a better screening test for these disorders.
See Table 3. Interpretation of the results of iron studies.

ReferenceBrugnara C. Clin Chem 2003; 49(10): 1573-1578.