What is Ferritin?Ferritin is a protein present in the body cells that the stores iron. Ferritin serves to store and transport it where it is required. Ferritin is mainly found in the liver, spleen, bone marrow and skeletal muscles while small amount of ferritin is present in the blood. Mitochondrial ferritin, which is found within the mitochondria of cells, plays a role in ferroxidase activity, oxidoreductase activity, iron ion binding, ferric ion binding, metal ion binding and transition metal binding. Optimal levels of ferritin in the body are important since it takes part in many biological processes. Any changes in levels of ferritin can lead to many ailments. A normal range of ferritin for women are 15-200 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) and for men 30-300 ng/mL.
Causes of High Ferritin Levels
High ferritin levels are the most commonly caused by genetic predisposition. On the other hand, elevated ferritin levels may be due to other factors. This can be an inflammatory disease such as lupus or arthritis. Liver diseases like hepatitis or cirrhosis, infection, hemolytic anemia, megaloblastic anemia, hemacromatosis, leukemia or Hodgkin’s disease can cause elevated ferritin levels. Other causes include too much iron in the diet, overuse of iron supplements and frequent transfusion therapy.
Symptoms of High Ferritin Levels
In the early stage, a person with high ferritin levels usually doesn’t experience any symptoms and the condition is identified through the blood tests that show levels of ferritin in the body. However, over time the symptoms start to appear due to accumulation of the iron in the blood and tissues, especially in the joints. This causes joint pain but the pain can be present in the entire body. High ferritin level in the body is also accompanied with darkening of the skin. Fatigue, weakness, abdominal pain, loss of libido and lack of energy are other signs and symptoms of elevated ferritin. Additionally, cardiovascular problems and heart diseases can also indicate high ferritin levels. Build up of excess iron in the body can result in the damage of the organs. Nevertheless, women with elevated ferritin can partly avoid organ damage due to menstrual periods in which they lose iron through blood.
Treatment for High Ferritin LevelsLevels of ferritin can be diagnosed with blood tests. These tests include serum ferritin and transferring saturation. Before undergoing these blood tests, a person must fast. The treatment that aims to reduce ferritin levels is known as therapeutic phlebotomy. This procedure involves removal of certain volume of blood from the body, once or twice a week until levels of ferritin drop.