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Total Serum Protein

Results continued...

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's lymphoma.
  • Uncontrolled diabetes.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Heart failure.

What Affects the Test

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

  • Taking medicines, such as corticosteroids, estrogens, male sex hormones (called androgens), growth hormone, or insulin.
  • Injuries or infections.
  • Prolonged bed rest, such as during a hospital stay.
  • A long-term (chronic) illness, especially if the disease interferes with what you are able to eat or drink.
  • Being pregnant.

What To Think About

  • If you have abnormal globulin levels, another test called serum protein electrophoresis is often done. This test measures specific groups of proteins in the blood. To learn more, see the topic Serum Protein Electrophoresis.
  • Damaged liver cells lose their ability to make protein. But previously produced protein may stay in the blood for 12 to 18 days, so it takes about 2 weeks for damage to the liver to show up as decreased serum protein levels. The liver's ability to make protein may be used to predict the course of certain liver diseases.
  • Unlike carbohydrates and fats, proteins are not stored in the body. They are continuously broken down (metabolized) into amino acids that can be used to make new proteins, hormones, enzymes, and other compounds needed by the body.
  • Protein also can be measured in the urine. To learn more, see the topic Urine Test.

Citations

  1. Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2013). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 6th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 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.

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