Body iron status in critically ill patients: significance of serum ferritin

F. Bobbio-Pallavicini, G. Verde, P. Spriano, R. Losi, M. G. Bosatra, A. Braschi, G. Iotti, M. Chiaranda, S. Villa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Serial measurements of blood haemoglobin, serum iron, serum transferrin, total iron-binding capacity, transferrin per cent saturation and serum ferritin were determined in 51 post-operative critically ill patients to investigate body iron status in severely stressed patients. The results showed decreased blood haemoglobin, serum iron, serum transferrin and transferrin saturation compared to an increase in serum ferritin levels. These results indicate that there is inadequate availability of iron to tissues (secondary to rearrangement of body iron to the advantage of the iron storage compartment), which is often present in severely critically ill patients. A positive correlation was found between the initial (ferritin) levels and SAPS (r=0.41, p<0.01). In addition, the increase of ferritin concentration parallels a worsening of the clinical status in severely ill patients. This is due to enhanced release by the macrophage system. From this, we consider serum ferritin as an acute-phase protein and a useful marker of the severity of the clinical status. It appears to be useful in predicting the patient's outcome, but is not reliable in evaluating iron stores in stressed patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1989


  • Acute-phase protein
  • Body iron pattern
  • Critically ill patients
  • Serum ferritin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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