Content Map Terms
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A total serum protein test is a blood test that measures the amounts of total protein, albumin, and globulin in the blood. Results are usually available within 12 hours.
The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.
Total protein:footnote 1
3.5–5.0 g/dL or 35–50 g/L
Alpha-1 globulin:footnote 1
0.1–0.3 g/dL or 1–3 g/L
Alpha-2 globulin:footnote 1
0.6–1.0 g/dL or 6–10 g/L
Beta globulin:footnote 1
0.7–1.1 g/dL or 7–11 g/L
High albumin levels may be caused by:
- Severe dehydration.
High globulin levels may be caused by:
- Diseases of the blood, such as multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, macroglobulinemia, or hemolytic anemia.
- An autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, autoimmune hepatitis, or sarcoidosis.
- Kidney disease.
- Liver disease.
Low albumin levels may be caused by:
- Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.
Current as of:
June 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
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