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Protein Total and Albumin-Plasma


Also Known As: Serum total protein, total protein, serum albumin test, blood test for albumin.


What Is Total Protein And Albumin Test?


It is a blood test to measure the total amount of protein and albumin in your blood. Proteins are the major constituent of all cells and are considered a building block of cells. Many enzymes and hormones are made of proteins which play a significant role in regulating the body's functions.


Various proteins are found in the blood plasma, of which albumin is the most abundant and principal protein. It is synthesized by the liver cells and forms about 60% of all the proteins in your body. The major functions of albumin are to maintain an osmotic gradient in the blood to prevent the leakage of water from the blood into the surrounding tissues. It acts as a carrier protein for different medicines, nutrients, and products the body makes. Besides these, it also acts as a source of amino acids for the production of different proteins that body requires. Another major kind of protein is globulin which forms about 40% of all protein in the body and is synthesized by the immune system and liver. Globulins are mostly present as antibodies that help the body's defense mechanism.


Along with this, they also make enzymes, hormones, and carrier proteins. The level of total protein in the blood normally remains within stable values. The serum total protein and albumin test is used to calculate a ratio between these two major blood proteins called Albumin-Globulin Ratio (A/G ratio), which compares the albumin to the globulin in the blood.


What Is The Test Used For?


The test is useful in screening, diagnosis, and monitoring different health conditions involving your kidney or liver. Your healthcare provider may request this test if he suspects signs and symptoms of liver and kidney diseases.


Liver disease like liver cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver shrinks and cannot function properly; signs and symptoms include:


  • Ascites (accumulation of fluid in the belly causing pain and swelling).
  • Accumulation of fluid in feet, ankles, and legs.
  • Yellow discoloration of eyes and skin (jaundice).
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Itching
  • Spider angiomata (spider-like blood vessels on the skin)


Kidney diseases like nephrotic syndrome, in which the kidney loses a lot of protein in the urine. The condition usually affects adults with diabetes and lupus. Normally a very less amount of protein is excreted in the urine. Signs and symptoms include:


  • Puffiness around eye
  • Swelling of arms and legs
  • Blood in urine
  • Urine D/R shows significant protein


Gastrointestinal loss of protein due to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or malabsorption of protein may also affect protein levels in the blood. Low albumin levels may also be a sign of thyroid disease.


Why And When You Need To Get Tested?


The test provides valuable information about the general health status concerning your nutrition and conditions affecting your vital organs like kidneys and liver. Your healthcare professional may request this test if:


  • You have any of the above signs and symptoms involving your kidney or liver.
  • Ordered as a part of a routine health checkup to determine your nutritional status or if you have a higher risk of developing kidney and liver disease.
  • Conducted as a part of liver penal tests or comprehensive metabolic penal (CMP) for evaluation of the disease.
  • To monitor the response of prescribed treatment over time.
  • Repeat tests at regular intervals are required if you are a known kidney or liver disease patient or if you're taking medicines that can damage your kidney or liver.
  • As a screening test for liver and kidney conditions that may indicate the need for various follow-up investigations.


What Kind Of Sample Is Required?


Your healthcare provider will use a small needle to draw a blood sample from the veins of your arms or hand and transfer it into a test tube or vial. The sample is then transported to the laboratory for testing.


Do You Need To Prepare For This Test?


No special preparation is required before running this test. However, be sure that you have enough water before giving a blood sample, as dehydration may falsely elevate your total protein and albumin levels. Moreover, make sure that you have informed your healthcare professional about all medicines you have been taking recently, as they may interfere with your test results.


Are There Any Risk To This Test?


It is a safe test with minimal risks; while taking a blood sample; you may feel temporary drowsiness, lightheadedness, pain, sting, or mild bruising at the site of the needle prick. Very rarely, you may develop infection or bleeding at the prick site. These side effects usually fade away within 5 minutes.


What Does The Test Results Mean?


The test results are usually obtained between 12-24 hours and are interpreted according to their reference ranges. The normal range of total serum protein is 5.5-9.0g/dL, and serum albumin is 3.5-5.5g/dL. Reference ranges may vary based on laboratories.


  • Abnormally high levels of total protein and albumin may be caused by:
  • Overproduction of protein due to chronic inflammatory disorders, certain infections, and cancers like multiple myeloma.
  • Dehydration and pregnancy may also elevate the total protein in the blood.
  • Prolonged application of tourniquet before taking a blood sample may falsely elevate the total protein levels.


Abnormally low levels of total protein and albumin may be caused by:


  • Accelerated breakdown and elimination of protein through kidney like in nephrotic syndrome.
  • Impaired production by the liver due to liver disorders like liver cirrhosis and hepatitis.
  • Malnutrition and decreased absorption through the digestive tract.
  • Increase plasma volume as in case of congestive heart failure.
  • Certain medicines lower protein levels in the blood, including oral contraceptives and estrogens.


You should consult your healthcare professional if you have any questions regarding your test results.


Related Tests:

  • Plasma electrophoresis
  • Quantitative immunoglobins
  • Urinary protein levels
  • Renal penal
  • Liver penal test


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