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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-21 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

TIBC, or total iron-binding capacity is a measurement of all proteins available for binding mobile iron.[1]


  • Transferrin represents the largest quantity of iron-binding proteins.
  • TIBC is therefore an indirect, yet accurate measurement of transferrin.
  • TIBC is measured by adding excess iron to the patient's serum. This causes transferrin to become saturated and excess iron is removed. The remaining iron is then measured.
  • Ferritin is not included in TIBC because it binds only stored iron.

Patient Preparation

  • No fasting required.
  • Factors which can cause increased levels
  • Drug: fluorides and oral contraceptives
  • Factors which can cause decreased levels
  • Drugs: ACTH and chloramphenicol

Clinical Implications

High levels indicate:

Low levels indicate:

Associated Tests


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (2006) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby.