Globulin Blood Test
What is a globulin blood test?
A globulin blood test measures the levels of a group of proteins called globulins in blood serum. Serum is the liquid part of blood. The medical term for this test is globulin electrophoresis.
What are globulins?
Your immune system and liver make globulin proteins. About 40% of the proteins in your blood are alpha, beta and gamma globulins. Albumin is the other common blood protein.
Your body needs globulins to:
- Fight off viruses and infections.
- Form blood clots.
- Keep the liver and kidneys functioning.
What’s the purpose of a globulin blood test?
Healthcare providers use globulin blood tests for:
- Screenings: As part of a routine physical exam, this blood test can identify potential problems like liver problems.
- Diagnosis: You may get a globulin blood test to diagnose a liver or kidney problem.
- Monitoring: Test results can show if a disease is improving or getting worse.
What are the types of globulin blood tests?
Healthcare providers order different globulin blood tests depending on your symptoms or the condition. The two main types include:
Total protein test
This test measures alpha and beta globulins, which rise when there’s inflammation. It also measures albumin, another protein your liver makes. Albumin carries hormones, vitamins and enzymes through your body. It also stops fluid in your blood from leaking into tissues.
A total protein test is often part of liver function tests or a comprehensive metabolic panel. A comprehensive metabolic panel checks for liver enzymes and proteins in the blood.
You may get a total protein test if you have, or are at risk for, liver damage or liver disease. You may also get this blood test if you have symptoms like:
- Edema (fluid buildup) in the stomach or lower limbs.
- Itchy skin (pruritus).
- Loss of appetite.
- Nausea and vomiting.
Serum protein electrophoresis
This test measures the levels of gamma globulins and other trace proteins found in blood serum. Gamma globulins (also called immunoglobulins) help the immune system fight off foreign substances and infections.
Providers use this globulin test to diagnose conditions that affect the immune system, such as:
- Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Multiple myeloma.
- Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia.
Who performs a blood globulin test?
A blood globulin test is a blood draw that takes place at your provider’s office, blood testing lab or hospital. A nurse or a phlebotomist, a specialist trained in drawing blood, takes the blood sample. The process should take less than five minutes.
What happens during a blood globulin test?
To draw the blood, a provider:
- Ties an elastic band called a tourniquet around the upper part of your arm to force more blood into your blood vessels. This pressure makes it easier for the provider to access a vein.
- Uses an antiseptic to clean and sterilize your skin.
- Inserts a thin, hollow needle into a vein on the inside of your elbow. There may be a slight pinch, but the procedure shouldn’t be painful.
- Collects the blood into syringes or vials (small tubes).
- Removes the tourniquet at the end of the blood draw and withdraws the needle.
- Gently applies pressure to a sterile cotton gauze at the puncture site to stop any bleeding.
- Covers the puncture wound with a bandage.
- Sends the blood samples to a lab for analysis.
How should I prepare for a blood globulin test?
You may need to fast (not eat or drink) at least 12 hours before getting the blood test. Follow your healthcare provider’s directions.
Make sure your provider has a list of the medications and supplements you take. Certain medicines like corticosteroids, the birth control pill and insulin for diabetes can affect globulin levels. Your provider will tell you if you need to stop taking a medication before the blood test.
Results and Follow-Up
When will I get the test results?
It usually takes several days for labs to analyze the samples and send results back to your provider, who will review the results with you.
What are normal globulin levels?
Blood tests measure globulin levels in grams per deciliter (g/dL). Because laboratories can use different techniques, results may vary from lab to lab. Your provider will want to use the same lab to monitor your levels.
Normal ranges include:
- Total proteins: 6.3 to 8.0 g/dL.
- Albumin: 3.9 to 4.9 g/dL.
- Globulin: 2.0 to 3.5 g/dL.
What is the A/G ratio?
A total protein test also shows the ratio of albumin to globulin or A/G ratio. The A/G ratio is a measure of the amount of albumin proteins in blood compared to globulins. Typically, your body has slightly more albumin than globulins. A normal A/G ratio is slightly more than 1.
What does it mean to have high globulin levels?
High blood protein (hyperproteinemia) can indicate potential problems that require additional testing. These problems include:
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Cancers like multiple myeloma or Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
- Infections and inflammation.
What does it mean to have low globulin levels?
Low globulin levels can indicate potential problems that require additional testing. These problems include:
- Kidney disease.
- Liver disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can dehydration cause high globulins?
Yes, dehydration can affect globulin levels. When people are dehydrated, globulin levels are higher.
Does pregnancy affect globulin levels?
Yes, globulin levels in pregnant people tend to be elevated. The total protein levels will increase during pregnancy and return to normal after childbirth. This fluctuation is normal and typically isn’t cause for concern.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Your healthcare provider may order a globulin blood test if you have risk factors or symptoms of certain diseases. The test can also monitor disease progression. Globulin and albumin are proteins found in the blood. Levels that are too high can indicate autoimmune disease, infections or cancers. Low levels may be a sign of liver or kidney problems. Your provider will order additional tests to make a diagnosis.
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