The diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia in sickle cell disease.Blood 1981; 58(5):963-8Blood
We determined the prevalence and optimal methods for laboratory diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia in patients with sickle cell disease. Laboratory investigations of 38 nontransfused and 32 transfused patients included transferrin saturation, serum ferritin, mean corpuscular volume (MCV), and free erythrocyte protoporphyrin (FEP). Response to iron supplementation confirmed the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia in 16% of the nontransfused patients. None of the transfused patients were iron deficient. All iron-deficient patients (mean age 2.4 yr) had a low MCV, serum ferritin less than 25 ng/ml, transferrin saturation less than 15%, and FEP less than 90 micrograms/dl RBC. Following therapy, all parameters improved and the hemoglobin concentration increased greater than 2 g/dl. A serum ferritin below 25 ng/ml was the most reliable screening test for iron deficiency. There were 13% false positive results with transferrin saturation, 3% with MCV, and 62% with FEP. FEP values correlated strongly with reticulocyte counts. The high FEP was in part due to protoporphyrin IX and not completely due to zinc protoporphyrin, which is elevated in iron deficiency. We conclude that iron deficiency anemia is a potential problem in young nontransfused sickle cell patients. Serum ferritin below 25 ng/ml and low MCV are the most useful screening tests.