Intact transferrin receptor molecules complexed with transferrin were found in human plasma. The concentration of receptors was determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that uses polyclonal antibodies. The mean concentration of 8,279 micrograms/L in 56 normal adults appears to be unrelated to age or sex. Additional receptor measurements were performed on plasmas from 260 subjects with erythropoietic disorders. Decreased concentration of plasma receptors was found in patients with erythroid hypoplasia and increased numbers in those with erythroid hyperplasia. Ferrokinetic measurements of erythropoiesis were compared with numbers of receptors in 148 subjects, and a close correlation was found (r = .86). Both sets of values, measured in different conditions and expressed in relation to normal, were consistent with expected values. Receptor values were unproportionally increased only in conditions of iron deficiency. It is concluded that plasma receptors have a constant relationship to tissue receptors, and their number in most instances reflects the rate of erythropoiesis.

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