Protein electrophoresis is a method for separating the proteins found in serum or urine. Electrophoresis is a simple, rapid and highly sensitive tool that is based on the fact that charged molecules will migrate through a gel matrix upon application of an electric field. Serum proteins are separated into five major groupings by electrophoresis. These fractions are called albumin, alpha 1 (a1-antitrypsin, a1-acid glycoprotein), alpha 2 (haptoglobin, a2-macroglobulin, a2-antiplasmin, ceruloplasmin), beta (transferrin, LDL, complement), and gamma (immunoglobulins). These protein groups are separated into bands by protein electrophoresis and form characteristic patterns. This test is used to identify the presence of abnormal proteins, to identify the absence of normal proteins, and to determine when different groups of proteins are increased or decreased in serum. It is frequently ordered to detect and identify monoclonal proteins, as well as, to help detect, diagnose, and monitor the course and treatment of conditions associated with these abnormal proteins, including multiple myeloma and a few other related diseases. DECREASED albumin is associated with malnutrition and malabsorption, pregnancy, kidney disease, liver disease, inflammatory conditions, and protein-losing syndromes. DECREASED alpha1 globulin might be associated with congenital emphysema (a1-antitrypsin deficiency, a rare genetic disease), or severe liver disease, and is INCREASED in acute or chronic inflammatory diseases. As for alpha 2 globulin, it is DECREASED in hyperthyroidism, severe liver disease, and hemolysis, while INCREASED in kidney disease (nephrotic syndrome), and acute or chronic inflammatory disease. DECREASED beta globulin is associated with malnutrition, and cirrhosis. INCREASED in hypercholesterolemia, iron deficiency anemia, and some cases of multiple myeloma. Gamma globulin DECREASES with a variety of genetic immune disorders and INCREASES with cirrhosis, chronic liver disease, acute and chronic infection, recent immunization, Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, and multiple myeloma.
State serum total protein and albumin. Separate serum from cells as soon as possible. Avoid plasma samples.