Ferritin al. (2011). Ferritin containing iron may be released

Ferritin is an intracellular protein that
helps store and distribute iron in a controlled process. The ferritin protein
is synthesised by most living organisms, which includes bacteria, plants and
animals. In humans, the protein acts as a buffer against iron deficiency and
iron overload as it helps to maintain a constants level of iron in the blood.
This protein is present in most tissues as a cytosolic protein, however small
amounts are found in the serum where it functions as an iron carrier. Plasma
ferritin is used as a diagnostic test for iron deficiency anemia, as the
protein acts as an indirect marker for the total amount of iron stored in the
body. Ferritin is a globular protein complex
consisting of 24 protein subunits which form a nanocage with metal protein
interactions, ferritin is the primary iron storage protein which keeps iron in
a soluble, non-toxic form, ferritin that is not combined with iron is known as

The function and structure
of the expressed ferritin protein differs in different cell types, like with
most other proteins this is controlled predominantly  by the amount and the stability of messenger
RNA, and is further affected by how mRNA is stored and how efficiently it is
transcribed, the presence of iron itself is also major trigger for the
production of ferritin.

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The concentration of
ferritin has been shown to increase due to stresses such as hypoxia, which is a
condition in which the body or specific regions of the body are deprived of an
adequate oxygen supply at a tissue level, this is most common in elderly
patients and in healthy patients at high altitudes where oxygen is not a
sufficient supply of oxygen available, and according to Beck et al.(2002) this
implies that it is an acute phase protein, as it reacts to inflammatory

Serum ferritin, which is an
acute phase protein whose values are expected to increase in inflammatory
conditions and in addition to conditions with increased iron stores, therefore
its concentration correlates with tissue iron stores in humans and domestic
animals Porwit et al. (2011). Ferritin containing iron may be released into the
blood due to damage to ferritin rich tissues, giving high values of ferritin,
e.g. in diseases such as hepatitis, splenic infraction or bone marrow
infraction in sickle cell disease, Kaneko et al. (2008).

This research is important as iron is an
essential element for blood production, about 70 percent of the body’s iron is
found in the haemoglobin of the red blood cells and the myoglobin of the muscle
cells. Haemoglobin is essential for the transportation of oxygen from the lungs
to the cells and tissues, whereas myoglobin in muscle cells, stores and
releases oxygen. 25 percent of the body’s iron is stored as part of
ferritin,which is found in the cells and circulates around the body, the rest is
found in other proteins such as enzymes essential for respiration and
metabolism. This makes it essential that iron intake is maintained and
controlled, the average adult male has about 1,000 mg of iron stored, whereas
the average woman only has about 300 mg stored, this is due to the fact that
women lose blood during menstruation therefore depleting there the iron content
in their bodies.


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