Here is the major differences between Serum iron, ferritin and transferrin.

Serum Iron

  • Serum iron measures the amount of iron circulating in the bloodstream that is bound to transferrin.
  • It reflects the amount of iron that is immediately available for use by tissues and cells.
  • Expressed in micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or micrograms per milliliter (mcg/mL).
  • Low levels may indicate iron deficiency, while high levels could suggest iron overload.
  • S. Iron normal range: 60-170 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL)

Serum Ferritin

  • Ferritin is a protein that stores iron, primarily in the liver, spleen, and bone marrow.
  • It serves as a reservoir of iron and releases it into the bloodstream when needed.
  • Expressed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).
  • Elevated levels may indicate inflammation, while low levels are associated with iron deficiency.
  • Serum ferritin normal range.
    • Women: 11-307 ng/mL
    • Men: 24-336 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)


  • Transferrin is a protein that transports iron in the blood and delivers it to cells.
  • It binds to iron and helps regulate its distribution in the body.
  • Expressed as a percentage of saturation or total iron-binding capacity.
  • Low transferrin saturation may suggest iron deficiency, while high levels can be seen in conditions like hemochromatosis.
  • Normal range of transferrin:
    • Total Iron-Binding Capacity (TIBC): 240-450 mcg/dL
    • Transferrin Saturation: 20-50%

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