Ferritin is an intracellular protein thathelps store and distribute iron in a controlled process.
The ferritin proteinis synthesised by most living organisms, which includes bacteria, plants andanimals. In humans, the protein acts as a buffer against iron deficiency andiron 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 smallamounts are found in the serum where it functions as an iron carrier.
Plasmaferritin is used as a diagnostic test for iron deficiency anemia, as theprotein acts as an indirect marker for the total amount of iron stored in thebody. Ferritin is a globular protein complexconsisting of 24 protein subunits which form a nanocage with metal proteininteractions, ferritin is the primary iron storage protein which keeps iron ina soluble, non-toxic form, ferritin that is not combined with iron is known asapoferittin. The function and structureof the expressed ferritin protein differs in different cell types, like withmost other proteins this is controlled predominantly by the amount and the stability of messengerRNA, and is further affected by how mRNA is stored and how efficiently it istranscribed, the presence of iron itself is also major trigger for theproduction of ferritin. The concentration offerritin has been shown to increase due to stresses such as hypoxia, which is acondition in which the body or specific regions of the body are deprived of anadequate oxygen supply at a tissue level, this is most common in elderlypatients and in healthy patients at high altitudes where oxygen is not asufficient supply of oxygen available, and according to Beck et al.(2002) thisimplies that it is an acute phase protein, as it reacts to inflammatoryresponses. Serum ferritin, which is anacute phase protein whose values are expected to increase in inflammatoryconditions and in addition to conditions with increased iron stores, thereforeits concentration correlates with tissue iron stores in humans and domesticanimals Porwit et al. (2011). Ferritin containing iron may be released into theblood due to damage to ferritin rich tissues, giving high values of ferritin,e.
g. in diseases such as hepatitis, splenic infraction or bone marrowinfraction in sickle cell disease, Kaneko et al. (2008). This research is important as iron is anessential element for blood production, about 70 percent of the body’s iron isfound in the haemoglobin of the red blood cells and the myoglobin of the musclecells.
Haemoglobin is essential for the transportation of oxygen from the lungsto the cells and tissues, whereas myoglobin in muscle cells, stores andreleases oxygen. 25 percent of the body’s iron is stored as part offerritin,which is found in the cells and circulates around the body, the rest isfound in other proteins such as enzymes essential for respiration andmetabolism. This makes it essential that iron intake is maintained andcontrolled, the average adult male has about 1,000 mg of iron stored, whereasthe average woman only has about 300 mg stored, this is due to the fact thatwomen lose blood during menstruation therefore depleting there the iron contentin their bodies.