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As part of a general health checkup, to determine your nutritional status or to help diagnose certain liver and kidney disorders as well as other diseases
When you have a routine health exam; when you experience unexpected weight loss or fatigue, or when your healthcare practitioner thinks that you could have symptoms of a liver or kidney disorder
A blood sample drawn from a vein or by fingerstick or, in the case of newborns, by heelstick
Proteins are important building blocks of all cells and tissues. They are important for body growth, development, and health. They form the structural part of most organs and make up enzymes and hormones that regulate body functions. This test measures the amount of protein in your blood.
Two classes of proteins are found in the blood, albumin and globulin.
The test also compares the amount of albumin with globulin and calculates what is called the A/G ratio. A change in this ratio can provide your healthcare practitioner with a clue as to the cause of the change in protein levels.
Total protein levels in the blood may increase or decrease, to a greater or lesser degree, with various conditions.
Total protein levels may decrease in conditions that:
Total protein levels may increase with conditions that cause:
These tests may also be used to help diagnose diseases and to monitor conditions or treatments. Total protein levels can be affected by many different diseases and disorders. For example, a total protein test may be used to help diagnose kidney disease or as part of a liver panel to help detect liver disease.
Results may indicate the need further testing. If total protein is abnormal, your healthcare practitioner may recommend follow-up tests, such as protein electrophoresis and quantitative immunoglobulins.
Some laboratories report total protein, albumin, and also the calculated ratio of albumin to globulins, the A/G ratio. The A/G ratio may provide a clue as to the cause of the change in protein levels.
A total protein test is frequently ordered as part of a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) when you have a routine health checkup.
Total protein may also be ordered if you have signs and symptoms, such as:
Results of a total protein test are evaluated along with those from other tests of the CMP. If results are abnormal, further tests are required to identify which protein is high or low before your healthcare practitioner can make a diagnosis.
Some examples of conditions that cause low total protein include:
Some examples of conditions that cause high total protein include:
Low A/G ratio may be caused by:
High A/G ratio may be caused by:
No, eating more protein will not increase your total protein test result.
There is no specific diet. A well-balanced diet that follows the recommendations of the United States Department of Agriculture is summarized by the USDA Choose My Plate.
Globulins are a group of proteins in the blood, some produced by the liver and some by the immune system. They help fight infection and transport nutrients. There are four main types: alpha 1, alpha 2, beta, and gamma. They are measured using different tests:
Yes, a test for protein can be performed on many different types of body fluids. Proteins are also measured in urine. The purpose of urine testing and the meaning of results are different than from blood. See the articles on Body Fluid Testing, Urine Protein, and Urinalysis for more information.
Many medications may affect total protein levels, including estrogens, steroids, and oral contraceptives. Tell your healthcare practitioner all the prescription or over-the-counter medications, supplements, or illicit substances you may be taking.
Sources Used in Current Review
2019 review performed by Marina Marinkovic, PhD, Principal Scientist, Nova Biomedical.
What to know about the protein test and results. MedicalNewsToday. Available online at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325320.php. Accessed 8/12/19.
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Total Protein and A/G Ratio. University of Rochester Medical Center. Available online at https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=total_protein_ag_ratio. Accessed 8/12/19.
Globulin Test. MedlinePlus. Available online at https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/globulin-test/. Accessed 8/12/19.
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