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Total Serum Protein Test

Test Overview

A total serum protein test measures the total amount of protein in the blood. It also measures the amounts of two major groups of proteins in the blood: albumin and globulin.

Albumin.

This is made mainly in the liver. It helps keep the blood from leaking out of blood vessels. Albumin also helps carry some medicines and other substances through the blood and is important for tissue growth and healing.

Globulin.

This is made up of different proteins called alpha, beta, and gamma types. Some globulins are made by the liver, while others are made by the immune system. Certain globulins bind with hemoglobin. Other globulins transport metals, such as iron, in the blood and help fight infection. Serum globulin can be separated into several subgroups by serum protein electrophoresis.

A test for total serum protein reports separate values for total protein, albumin, and globulin. Some types of globulin (such as alpha-1 globulin) also may be measured.

Why It Is Done

Albumin is tested to:

  • Check how well the liver and kidneys are working.
  • Find out if your diet contains enough protein.
  • Help find the cause of swelling of the ankles or belly or of fluid collection in the lungs that may cause shortness of breath.

Globulin is tested to:

  • Find out how well your body is able to fight off infection.
  • See if you have a rare blood disease, such as multiple myeloma or macroglobulinemia.

How To Prepare

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How It Is Done

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

How long the test takes

The test will take a few minutes.

Watch

How It Feels

When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.

Results

Each lab has a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should show the range that your lab uses for each test. The normal range is just a guide. Your doctor will also look at your results based on your age, health, and other factors. A value that isn't in the normal range may still be normal for you.

Results are usually available within 12 hours.

High values

High albumin levels may be caused by:

High globulin levels may be caused by:

Low values

Low albumin levels may be caused by:

  • A poor diet (malnutrition).
  • Kidney disease.
  • Liver disease.
  • An autoimmune disease, such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Gastrointestinal malabsorption syndromes, such as sprue or Crohn's disease.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Heart failure.

Credits

Current as of: June 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine