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Total protein

Definition

The total protein test measures the total amount of two classes of proteins found in the fluid portion of your blood. These are albumin and globulin.

Proteins are important parts of all cells and tissues.

  • Albumin helps prevent fluid from leaking out of blood vessels.
  • Globulins are an important part of your immune system.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed. Most of the time blood is drawn from a vein located on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

How to Prepare for the Test

Many medicines can interfere with blood test results.

  • Your health care provider will tell you if you need to stop taking any medicines before you have this test.
  • DO NOT stop or change your medicines without talking to your provider first.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is often done to diagnose nutritional problems, kidney disease or liver disease.

If total protein is abnormal, you will need to have more tests will need to be done to look for the exact cause of the problem.

Normal Results

The normal range is 6.0 to 8.3 gm/dL (grams per deciliter) or 60 to 83 g/L.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Higher-than-normal levels may be due to:

Lower-than-normal levels may be due to:

Considerations

Total protein measurement may be increased during pregnancy.

References

Landry DW, Bazari H. Approach to the patient with renal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 114.

Manary MJ, Trehan I. Protein-energy malnutrition. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 215.

Review Date:5/3/2015
Reviewed By:Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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