Serum Protein Electrophoresis

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-24 (EDT)

See Also Lab Tests

Serum protein electrophoresis is used to diagnose, evaluate, and monitor the disease course in patients with cancer (e.g. lymphoma, myeloma), intestinal/renal protein-wasting states, immune disorders, liver dysfunction, impaired nutrition, and chronic edematous states.[1]


  • Proteins are constituents of key functional and structural entities within the body.
  • Total serum protein is a combination of prealbumin, albumin, and globulins.
  • Serum protein electrophoresis can separate various components of blood protein into bands or zones according to their electrical charge.
  • This test can also be done on urine to determine certain renal protein-losing nephropathies.
  • Several different methods of electrophoresis exist, which include radial immunodiffusion, immunonephelometry, immunofluorometry, and radioimmunoassay.

Patient Preparation

  • No fasting required.
  • Factors which can cause increased levels
  • Drugs: Aspirin, bicarbonates, chlorpromazine, corticosteroids, isoniazid, neomycin, phenacemide, salicylates, sulfonamides, and tolbutamide
  • Factors which can cause decreased levels
  • None noted

Clinical Implications

High Levels:

High Albumin levels indicate:

  • Dehydration

High Alpha1 globulin levels indicate:

  • Inflammatory disease

High Alpha2 globulin levels indicate:

High Beta globulin levels indicate:

High Gamma globulin levels indicate:

  • Multiple myeloma
  • Walderstrom macroglobulinemia
  • Chronic inflammatory disease
  • Malignancy
  • Hyperimmunization
  • Cirrhosis
  • Acute and chronic infection

Low levels:

Low Albumin levels indicate:

  • Malnutrition
  • Pregnancy
  • Liver disease
  • Protein-losing enteropathies
  • Protein-losing nephropathies
  • Third-space losses
  • Overhydration
  • Increased capillary permeability
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Familial idiopathic dysproteinemia

Low Alpha1 globulin levels indicate:

  • Juvenile pulmonary emphysema

Low Alpha2 globulin levels indicate:

  • Hemolysis
  • Wilson disease
  • Hyperthyroidism

Low Beta globulin levels indicate:

  • Malnutrition

Low Gamma globulin levels indicate:

  • Genetic immune disorders
  • Secondary immune deficiency

Associated Tests

  • Immunofixation Electrophoresis (IFE), Immunoglobulin Electrophoresis, Prealbumin


  1. Pagana Kathleen D, Pagana Timothy J (2006) Mosby's Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, Mosby.