What does total protein indicate in a blood test?

Total serum protein or simply total protein, sometimes also called total plasma protein, is a very common biochemical test in blood analysis that consists of measuring the concentration of albumin and globulin in blood serum (serum is blood plasma without fibrinogen and other clotting proteins).

What are they measured for?

Both albumin and the different globulins in blood plasma have very important functions, which is why their concentration can be indicative of health problems, some can be mild or just a risk factor, but others can be serious.

Albumin is mainly synthesized in the liver and is the main protein that exerts oncotic pressure on blood vessels to regulate water exchange between vessels and tissues. Albumin also has an important transport function for many substances and is involved in tissue growth and repair.

Globulins are synthesized in different parts of the body, such as the liver or the immune system, and transport proteins and antibodies stand out among them.

Albumin is measured primarily as an indication of possible liver or kidney problems, diagnose nutritional deficits, or investigate causes of edema including pulmonary edema.

If total globulin values ​​are outside the normal range, the different globulin fractions are usually determined separately (alpha-1, alpha-2, beta, and gamma) by electrophoresis. The exact concentration of each type of globulin provides relevant diagnostic information about various diseases, including infections, immune system disorders, chronic inflammatory diseases, and some cancers such as multiple myeloma or macroglobulinemia.

normal values

The reference ranges of total serum proteins are a guide that must be evaluated individually according to the patient and their particular conditions, therefore they tend to vary slightly between different sources. Normal values ​​are generally considered:

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total protein: 6.4-8.3 g/dL (grams per deciliter) or 64-83 g/L (grams per liter) Albumin: 3.5-5.0 g/dL or 35-50 g/L Alpha -1 globulins: 0.1-0.3 g/dL or 1-3 g/L Alpha-2 globulins: 0.6-1.0 g/dL or 6-10 g/L beta globulins: 0.7- 1.1 g/dL or 7-11 g/L A/G ratio (albumin/globulin): greater than 1 is considered normal.

There are factors that can affect total protein values ​​and should be taken into account before performing the analysis, such as certain medications (corticosteroids, estrogens, androgens, somatotropin or growth hormone, insulin), infections and wounds, chronic diseases, pregnancy or physical inactivity (eg in hospitalized patients).

Causes of high values

High albumin levels (hyperalbuminemia) are rare and are usually due to dehydration. It can be caused by excessive sweating and prolonged intense exercise. Its symptoms include nausea and vomiting.

o high globulin values ​​occur in situations and diseases that can be serious:

Cancers and blood disorders: multiple myelonoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, macroglobulinemia, hemolytic anemia. Autoimmune diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, sarcoidosis, autoimmune hepatitis. Infectious diseases: tuberculosis, HIV. kidney disease liver disease

low values

Low albumin values ​​can be due to causes such as:

Malnutrition and protein deficiency. Kidney diseases liver diseases Autoimmune diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus. Digestive problems: intestinal malabsorption, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease. uncontrolled diabetes hyperthyroidism Heart or circulatory system failure water intoxication

Low globulin values ​​are rare and in some cases are related to immunodeficiencies.

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