Effect of malaria on soluble transferrin receptor levels in Tanzanian infants.

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  • 1 Departamento de Bioquimica Clínica, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain.

The diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia in malaria endemic areas is complicated by the influence of the infection on the laboratory tests conventionally used to assess iron status. Determination of soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR) levels has been shown to be a sensitive indicator of iron deficiency in adults and is not affected by a range of infectious and inflammatory conditions. The utility of sTfR levels in the diagnosis of iron deficiency in malaria endemic areas remains unresolved. Three hundred and fourteen infants in a rural area of southern Tanzania living under conditions of intense and perennial malaria transmission were studied to determine the utility of sTfR plasma levels in the assessment of iron deficiency anemia. Independent of the presence of anemia, malaria parasitemia was associated with a significant increase in sTfR plasma levels that were even higher than those found in iron deficiency anemia. We conclude that the measurement of sTfR levels does not have a role in the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia in young children exposed to malaria infection.