Haptoglobin is a plasma protein that your liver produces. It combines with hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to your organs and tissues via the red blood cells.
When red blood cells are broken down in the body, the hemoglobin is released. That’s when haptoglobin protein combines with it. Once the haptoglobin gets to the liver, it’s detoxified by macrophage cells.
Your body tries to keep a balance between the number of red blood cells that are being produced and destroyed. It the scale is tipped in favor of more red blood cells being destroyed, then haptoglobin levels drop because they are being detoxified faster than they are made in the liver. More red blood cells are destroyed than made when someone has hemolytic anemia.
The symptoms of this type of anemia include:
- Cold hands and feet
- Severe fatigue
- Shortness of breath even when walking up stairs
- Abnormal heart rate
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Pain in the abdomen
- Yellowed whites of eyes
Normal Ranges for Haptaglobin in mg/dL:
Adults: 30-200 mg/dL (Adult levels are seen in babies 4 to 6 months old.)
Low haptoglobin levels is considered normal for babies in the first six months of life.
Otherwise, low levels of haptoglobin are associated with any of the following:
- Hemolytic anemia
- A hereditary condition called spherocytosis
- Disorders of the spleen
- Liver disease such as cirrhosis
- Bone marrow diseases that interfere with the production of red blood cells
- Transfusion reactions
- Regular exercise
- 1% of whites and 4-10% of blacks do not make haptoglobin
- Megaloblastic anemia
High levels of haptoglobin are associated with:
- Removal of the spleen
- Collagen diseases
- Obstruction of the gall bladder
- Aplastic anemia
- High levels of estrogen
- Nephrotic syndrome
- Use of steroids
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