Albumin produced by the liver and globulin, mainly antibodies (gammaglobulin), are the main protein fractions found in the blood. Total protein levels in the blood give a general indication of the state of hydration, nutrition or proper functioning of certain major organs such as the liver, kidneys or bone marrow. A total protein result (total serum proteins) must be interpreted using other tests including albumin level, A/G ratio and sometimes protein electrophoresis.
Abnormally low blood protein levels (hypoproteinemia) suggest liver disease (low albumin production) or a problem of malnutrition or the malabsorption of amino acids necessary for protein formation (gluten enteropathy, Crohn’s disease, etc.). Too much protein loss from the kidneys or too much water in the blood can also cause hypoproteinemia.
An abnormally high level of blood protein (hyperproteinemia) may indicate too little water in the blood (dehydration) or an increase in the gammaglobulin (antibody) fraction, as found in chronic inflammatory diseases, certain viral infections or bone marrow disorders (multiple myeloma).