Immunocytochemical detection of ferritin in human bone marrow and peripheral blood cells using monoclonal antibodies specific for the H and L subunit

R. Invernizzi, M. Cazzola, P. De Fazio, V. Rosti, G. Ruggeri, P. Arosio

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We have used the monoclonal antibodies 2A4 (specific for the H subunit of human ferritin) and LO3 (specific for the L subunit) for immunocytochemical detection of ferritin in bone marrow and peripheral blood cells from normal subjects and patients with various haematological disorders. Formalin-fixed slides were stained by the immunoalkaline phosphatase procedure (APAAP). In normal subjects, ferritin could be found only in bone marrow smears and appeared to be largely confined to erythroid precursors and reticuloendothelial cells. The more immature erythroid precursors contained higher concentrations of cellular ferritin. Although evaluation could be only semiquantitative, erythroblast ferritin appeared to be more reactive with the monoclonal 2A4 (15 ± 7% positive erythroblasts) than with the monoclonal LO3 (6 ± 5% positive erythroblasts), indicating that H-type ferritin was predominant, particularly in proerythroblasts and basophilic erythroblasts. By contrast, the ferritin present in reticuloendothelial cells appeared to be predominantly of L-type. Patients with iron deficiency showed low levels of positive erythroblast, whereas the reverse was true in patients with transfusional iron overload. Intense positivity for reticuloendoethelial cell ferritin was found in patients with anaemia of chronic disease. In myelodysplastic syndromes and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), ferritin positivity was generally very strong at any stage of erythroblast development, particularly with the monoclonal antibody 2A4. Perls-positive perinuclear granules of ring sideroblasts were not stained, confirming that mitochondrial iron deposition is not in the form of ferritin. In AML and myelodysplastic syndromes with excess of blasts, ferritin could be detected also in immature myeloid cells. These data indicate that: (a) in normal conditions ferritin is mainly expressed in red cell precursors and reticuloendothelial cells, and this is in keeping with the peculiar role of these cells in iron metabolism; (b) abnormal cell ferritin contents can be observed in both iron overload and malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-432
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Haematology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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