Skip to content

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Serum Protein Electrophoresis (SPEP)

Results continued...

Results are usually ready in 2 to 3 days.

Serum protein electrophoresis 1
  Total serum protein amount in grams per deciliter (g/dL) Total serum protein amount in grams per liter (g/L) (SI units)
Albumin (adult)

3.8–5.0

38–50

Alpha-1 globulin

0.1–0.3

1–3

Alpha-2 globulin

0.6–1

6–10

Beta globulin

0.7–1.4

7–14

Gamma globulin

0.7–1.6

7–16

High values

High values may be caused by many conditions. Some of the most common are shown here.

  • High albumin: Dehydration
  • High alpha-1 globulin: Infection; inflammation
  • High alpha-2 globulin: Inflammation; kidney disease
  • High beta globulin: Very high cholesterol; low iron (iron-deficiency anemia)
  • High gamma globulin: Inflammation; infection; liver disease; some forms of cancer

Low values

Low values may be caused by many conditions. Some of the most common are shown here.

  • Low albumin: Poor nutrition; inflammation; liver disease; kidney disease
  • Low alpha-1 globulin: Severe inflammation; liver disease
  • Low alpha-2 globulin: Thyroid problems; liver disease
  • Low beta globulin: Poor nutrition
  • Low gamma globulin: Problems with the immune system

What Affects the Test

Reasons you may not be able to have the test or why the results may not be helpful include:

What To Think About

  • Electrophoresis on protein in urine may also be done, especially if the results of the serum protein electrophoresis test are abnormal. Normally very little protein is found in urine, but certain diseases (such as multiple myeloma) cause large amounts of protein to leak into the urine.
  • Although abnormal protein levels may be found in many conditions (such as kidney disease, chronic liver disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, or leprosy), serum protein electrophoresis is usually not done to diagnose these conditions.
  • A special test can be done for one of the major parts of the alpha-1 globulin group (called alpha-1 antitrypsin). Alpha-1 antitrypsin inhibits enzymes in the lungs that break down protein. These enzymes can damage normal lung tissue and cause emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). People born without the ability to produce alpha-1 antitrypsin may develop emphysema at the age of 30 or 40. This condition can be detected by testing them for alpha-1 antitrypsin. To learn more, see the topic Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency Genetic Testing.
  • A test for total serum protein is often done at the same time as serum protein electrophoresis. To learn more, see the topic Total Serum Protein.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 24, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Hot Topics

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
feet
Solutions for 19 types.
pregnancy test and calendar
Helping you get pregnant.
build a better butt
How to build a better butt.
lone star tick
How to identify that bite.
woman standing behind curtains
How it affects you.
brain scan with soda
Tips to avoid complications.
row of colored highlighter pens
Tips for living better.
psoriasis
How to keep flares at bay.
woman dreaming
What Do Your Dreams Say About You?
spinal compression fracture
Treatment options.

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.