Assessment of Iron in Human Tissue: The Magnetic Biopsy
There are about four grams of iron in the body of a normal adult human. Around three grams is continuously involved in biochemical activity, principally oxygen transport and storage. The remaining gram is sequestered in two specialized protein molecules, ferritin and hemosiderin. The detailed balance between iron absorption and loss determines the actual size of this reserve or “storage iron,” and any marked variation is of clinical significance. For example, an increase may occur as a result of a shift from hemoglobin to storage (associated with chronic inflammation, infection, or malignancy). Increases can also occur as a result of a variety of disorders that build up total body iron, e.g. hereditary hemochromatosis, chronic transfusions and refractory anemias. Early detection of the iron build up associatedwith hereditary hemochromatosis is especially valuable because prompt treatment by phlebotomy can eliminate the excess iron and avoid serious attendant complications. A reliable measure of decreased iron stores would offer valuable diagnostic clues, for example, to the possible presence of malignancy. Complete iron depletion is associated with iron deficiency anemia, a serious and widespread condition.
KeywordsMagnetic Susceptibility Iron Overload Magnetic Response Refractory Anemia Hereditary Hemochromatosis
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