Basic ferritin (liver-type) was measured in erythrocytes of subjects with α- and β-thalassemia trait, thalassemia intermedia and Cooley’s disease, and compared with normals and patients with abnormal iron metabolism without erythrocyte metabolic defect (iron deficiency anemia and idiopathic hemochromatosis). In all the thalassemic syndromes considered, erythrocyte ferritin was significantly higher than in normals (p < 0.001) and increased progressively with the increasing ‘severity’ of the thalassemic disorder. In both thalassemic and nonthalassemic subjects, erythrocyte ferritin levels were related to body iron status, but in the thalassemic group, the increased erythrocyte ferritin values seemed also to be closely related to the intracellular metabolic abnormality. The severity of the defect in globin chain synthesis seemed to play an important role in determining ferritin accumulation in red cells of thalassemic subjects.

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