Haptoglobin is an alpha2-glycoprotein synthesised by the liver parenchyma. Its role is to irreversibly bind free haemoglobin in the blood, in order to preserve iron and prevent any potential damage to renal tubules which may occur further to the excretion of haemoglobin. Haptoglobin also has a role in controlling the local inflammation process.
The haptoglobin-haemoglobin complex that is formed is broken down in a few minutes by the reticuloendothelial system, which metabolizes the components into amino acids and iron.
Increased haptoglobin levels are observed in the inflammation processes as a result of nephrotic syndrome or as a result of the effects of corticosteroids. Decreased haptoglobin levels are observed in the event of genetic abnormalities, haemolytic diseases, erythropoietic disorders, hepatocellular diseases, as a result of the effects of oestrogen (endogenous and exogenous) or in newborns.