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Protein electrophoresis - serum

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This lab test measures the types of protein in the fluid (serum) part of a blood sample. This fluid is called serum.

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Blood test

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How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

In the lab, the technician places the blood sample on special paper and applies an electric current. The proteins move on the paper and form bands that show the amount of each protein.

How to Prepare for the Test

You may be asked not to eat or drink for 12 hours before this test.

Certain medicines may affect the results of this test. Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines. DO NOT stop any medicine before talking to your provider.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

Proteins are made from amino acids and are important parts of all cells and tissues. There are many different kinds of proteins in the body, and they have many different functions. Examples of proteins include enzymes, certain hormones, hemoglobin, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad cholesterol), and others.

Serum proteins are classified as albumin or globulins. Albumin is the most abundant protein in the serum. It carries many small molecules. It is also important for keeping fluid from leaking out from the blood vessels into the tissues.

Globulins are divided into alpha-1, alpha-2, beta, and gamma globulins. In general, alpha and gamma globulin protein levels increase when there is inflammation in the body.

Lipoprotein electrophoresis determines the amount of proteins made up of protein and fat, called lipoproteins (such as LDL cholesterol).

Normal Results

Normal value ranges are:

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Decreased total protein may indicate:

Increased alpha-1 globulin proteins may be due to:

Decreased alpha-1 globulin proteins may be a sign of:

Increased alpha-2 globulin proteins may indicate a:

Decreased alpha-2 globulin proteins may indicate:

Increased beta globulin proteins may indicate:

Decreased beta globulin proteins may indicate:

Increased gamma globulin proteins may indicate:

Risks

There is little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one person to another, and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:

Related Information

Immunoelectrophoresis - blood
Immunofixation blood test
Serum globulin electrophoresis
Amino acids
Hemoglobin
Fibrinogen blood test
Antibody
Total protein
Alpha-1 antitrypsin blood test
T3 test
Free T4 test
T3RU test
Haptoglobin blood test
Ceruloplasmin blood test
Serum iron test
Factor VIII assay
Malnutrition
Nephrotic syndrome
Chronic
Rheumatoid arthritis
Systemic lupus erythematosus
Acute
Malignancy
Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
Hemolysis
Familial hypercholesterolemia
Congenital platelet function defects
Hyperimmunization
Waldenström macroglobulinemia
Liver disease

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Protein electrophoresis - serum. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:917-920.

Warner EA, Herold AH. Interpreting laboratory tests. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 14.

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Review Date: 1/19/2018  

Reviewed By: Richard LoCicero, MD, private practice specializing in hematology and medical oncology, Longsteet Cancer Center, Gainesville, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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