BACKGROUND: The expression of the two types of ferritin subunits, the H-subunit and L-subunit, has been shown to be differentially regulated by cytokines. The primary aim of the present study was to quantitatively measure the expression of the H-subunit and L-subunit of ferritin in bone marrow macrophages and cells of the erythron in patients with chronic T-helper cell type-1 immune stimulation.
METHODS: The expression of the H-subunit and L-subunit of ferritin in bone marrow macrophages and cells of the erythron was quantitatively evaluated by post-embedding immunolocalisation with immunogold transmission electron microscopy.
RESULTS: The present study showed up-regulation of the H-subunit of ferritin in the bone marrow macrophage in patients with pronounced cellular immune activation (94.7 ± 37.3 counts/μm2; n = 31 vs 72.4 ± 34.0 counts/μm2; n = 13, p-value = 0.037).
CONCLUSION: This supports a possible role for H-subunit rich ferritins in the hypoferraemia of chronic disease.