J Clin Pathol 36:539-545 doi:10.1136/jcp.36.5.539
  • Research Article

Transferrin receptors in human tissues: their distribution and possible clinical relevance.


The distribution of transferrin receptors (TR) has been studied in a range of normal and malignant tissues using four monoclonal antibodies, BK19.9, B3/25, T56/14 and T58/1. In normal tissues TR was found in a limited number of sites, notably basal epidermis, the endocrine pancreas, hepatocytes, Kupffer cells, testis and pituitary. This restricted pattern of distribution may be relevant to the characteristic pattern of iron deposition in primary haemachromatosis. In contrast to this limited pattern of expression in normal tissue, the receptor was widely distributed in carcinomas, sarcomas and in samples from cases of Hodgkin's disease. This malignancy-associated expression of the receptor may play a role in the anaemia of advanced malignancy by competing with the bone marrow for serum iron.