Expression of transferrin receptors on monocytes in hemochromatosis

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Abstract

To assess whether an abnormality in transferrin receptor expression or regulation could represent an underlying metabolic defect in the reticuloendothelial (RE) system in hemochromatosis, monocytes were analyzed for the expression of the transferrin receptor using a monoclonal antibody (Act II) to the transferrin receptor (CD71) and flow cytometric analysis. Hemochromatosis patients (n = 14), and normal volunteers with no clinical evidence of iron overload (n = 14) were studied. A significant inverse relationship was observed for the relationship between the expression of transferrin receptor on monocytes and log(hepatic iron concentration) in hemochromatosis patients (r = −0.59, P < 02) and also for the relationship between the expression of transferrin receptor and log(serum ferritin) in normal volunteers (r = −0.90, P <.001). There was no significant difference in the mean expression of monocyte transferrin receptor between hemochromatosis patients and normal volunteers. However, the expression of the transferrin receptor in hemochromatosis patients was disproportionately higher than would be predicted from the relationship between serum ferritin and transferrin receptor expression in normal volunteers. The inverse relationship of the monocyte transferrin receptor relative to body iron stores in hemochromatosis is consistent with observations in other tissues, and suggests that non-transferrin iron metabolism, including ferritin, requires further investigation in the RE cell in hemochromatosis.

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