Protein Electrophoresis Serum Test
The Protein Electrophoresis Serum Test measures the types of protein in a blood serum sample.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Protein Electrophoresis Serum Test, which measures the types of protein in a blood serum sample and helps identify certain diseases. Proteins are composed of amino acids and can carry either a positive or negative electrical charge, allowing them to move in fluid when exposed to an electrical field. Serum protein electrophoresis is a technique that uses this principle to group proteins in the blood serum by size, shape, and charge. The two major protein groups found in blood serum are albumin and globulin, both of which transport substances through the bloodstream.
With protein electrophoresis, these two groups can be further separated into the following five smaller fractions:
- Albumin - Albumin proteins keep the blood from leaking out of blood vessels. Albumin also helps carry some medicines and other substances through the blood and is essential for tissue growth and healing. More than half of the protein in blood serum is albumin.
- Alpha-1 globulin - High-density lipoprotein (HDL), the good type of cholesterol, is included in this fraction.
- Alpha-2 globulin - A protein called haptoglobin binds with hemoglobin and is included in the alpha-2 globulin fraction.
- Beta globulin - Beta globulin proteins help carry substances, such as iron, through the bloodstream and help fight infection.
- Gamma globulin - These proteins are also called antibodies. They help prevent and fight infection. Gamma globulins bind to foreign substances, such as bacteria or viruses, causing them to be destroyed by the immune system. See an illustration of the immune system.
Five different groups of proteins move at varying rates in an electrical field and create a distinctive pattern. This pattern helps identify certain illnesses, including acute or chronic inflammation, liver issues, hypogammaglobulinemia, and potential monoclonal gammopathies.
What do abnormal protein electrophoresis levels indicate?
Increased alpha-1 globulin, alpha-2 globulin, beta globulin, and gamma globulin proteins may be indicative of:
- Acute inflammatory disease
- Chronic inflammatory disease (rheumatoid arthritis, SLE)
- Acute inflammation
- Chronic inflammation
- Disorders in which the body has problems breaking down fats (hyperlipoproteinemia, familial hypercholesterolemia)
- Estrogen therapy
- Bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma)
- Chronic inflammatory disease (for example, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Overactive immune system (hyperimmunization)
- Acute infection
- White blood cell cancer (Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia)
- Chronic liver disease
Decreased alpha-1 globulin, alpha-2 globulin, beta globulin, and gamma globulin proteins may be indicative of:
- Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
- Breakdown of red blood cells (hemolysis)
- Abnormally low level of LDL cholesterol
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