Proteins are the dominant compounds in serum or the part of blood fluid when you remove the cells. Proteins form the basic components of enzymes and they are the building blocks for cells and body tissues. Hormones, clotting agents, and antibodies are also made of proteins. Serum proteins are grouped into albumin and globulins. Albumin globulin concentrations make up the total protein present in serum.
Serum proteins act as transport substances where they help carry hormones, vitamins, lipids, minerals, and other materials to different parts of the body. Serum proteins also help in keeping the balance of osmotic pressure in blood and tissues. To help keep water inside certain compartment of the body, the osmotic pressure performs the function of keeping the fluids within the compartments.
Moreover, proteins also help in maintaining and regulating the acid-alkaline balance in blood. Last but not least, serum proteins serve as reserve for energy source in your body tissues and muscles especially during the times when you are not ingesting sufficient amounts of proteins. The cells of the body tissues and muscles require energy for their function.
A typical panel test provides four kinds of measures including albumin, globulin, total protein, and albumin globulin ratio. The total protein in serum represents the concentrations of albumin and globulin proteins and doctors use the measurements to determine which specific protein is high or low.
Albumin is synthesized from dietary protein by the liver and it helps in creating osmotic force, which restores the fluid volume in vessels. The normal ranges for albumin are 4.5 to 5.0 grams per 100 milliliter.
Elevated levels may be caused by dehydration, poor utilization of protein, congestive heart failure, and excess glucocorticoid due to use of medications with cortisone or overproduction of cortisol by the adrenal gland. Low levels of albumin may be caused by hypothyroidism, malnutrition, nephritic syndrome, liver dysfunction, and loss of protein from gastrointestinal tract disease like diarrhea.
Globulin protein consists of gamma, beta, alpha-1, and alpha-2 globulins. The specific profiles of globulin can be obtained through a protein electrophoresis or SPEP procedure, which is used to separate the proteins in their sizes and charges.
Elevated levels of globulin may be caused by conditions like chronic infections by virus and bacteria, liver disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney dysfunction or nephrosis and carcinoid syndrome. Low levels of globulins could arise due to liver dysfunction, acute hemolytic anemia, and nephrosis where the kidneys are not able to filter the protein resulting to leaks in urine.
The total serum protein and albumin are included in the routine panel of tests such as the comprehensive metabolic panel and they are used to assess and evaluate the overall health of a person. Total proteins can be low, high and the components of globulin protein can be altered due to different health conditions and diseases. This means that the total protein and albumin test could be ordered to help diagnose disease, assess, and monitor changes in health of patients. The test could also be ordered to screen a patient to determine whether there is need for other kinds of tests to be performed.
Albumin globulin ratio
Albumin globulin ratio is a blood test performed to determine liver and kidney problems. In this test, the albumin level is divided by globulin value and used to assess the various liver diseases and kidney complications. The test is also used to examine the nutritional status of a patient. When a person shows symptoms like fatigue, unexplained weight loss, kidney disorder, or liver disease symptoms, an albumin globulin ratio test or a total protein test may be ordered.
The normal ranges for albumin globulin ratio are about 0.8 to 2.0. The albumin globulin ratio is obtained by measuring the total protein and albumin and then these values are used to derive the ratio. The albumin globulin A/G ratio represents the amount of protein that is being utilized by the body at any one give time.
The ratio can be used to establish if there is overproduction or underproduction of gamma globulin. Any condition, which would trigger a decreased amount of globulin in serum, would mean that the A/G ratio increases too. In the same way, anything that would induce increased albumin levels would mean that the A/G ratio also increases.
The albumin globulin ratio is used to evaluate conditions like liver damage, thymus malfunction, spleen problems, kidney disease, problems in protein digestion and absorption, issues with protein intake or malnutrition as well as autoimmune conditions.
High levels of albumin globulin ratio
Elevated levels of albumin globulin ratio could indicate underproduction of immunoglobulins and this may arise due to presence of conditions like hypothyroidism, some genetic disorders, eating a diet high in protein and carbohydrates, leukemia, hypogammaglobulinemia or low levels of globulin and excess glucocorticoid.
Low levels of albumin globulin ratio
On the other hand, low albumin globulin ratio could be an indication of overproduction of globulins due to conditions like multiple myeloma and some autoimmune disorders. It could also be marker for underproduction of albumin due to conditions like liver cirrhosis and nephritic syndrome.