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Alternative Names Return to topLipoprotein electrophoresis
Definition Return to top
This test roughly measures the types of protein in the fluid (serum) part of a blood sample.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
A blood sample is needed. For information on giving a blood sample from a vein, see venipuncture.
Electrophoresis is a laboratory technique. The blood serum (the liquid part of the blood without the cells) is placed on specially treated paper and exposed to an electric current. The various proteins in the serum move on the paper to form bands that show the proportion of each protein fraction. A fraction may contain several different types of proteins.
Individual proteins, except albumin, are not usually measured. However, protein fractions or groups ARE measured. The levels of protein fractions can be estimated by measuring the total serum protein and then multiplying that by the relative percentage of each protein fraction.
Lipoprotein electrophoresis is a type of protein electrophoresis that determines the amount of chemical compounds made up of protein and fat, called lipoproteins (such as LDL cholesterol).
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
You may be asked not to eat or drink for 12 hours before a lipoprotein electrophoresis test.
Your health care provider may ask you to stop taking drugs that could affect the test. Do not stop taking any medications without first talking to your health care provider.
Drugs that can affect the measurement of total proteins include chlorpromazine, corticosteroids, isoniazid, neomycin, phenacemide, salicylates, sulfonamides, and tolbutamide.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
Proteins are made from amino acids and are important components of all cells and tissues. There are many different kinds of proteins in the body with many different functions. Examples of proteins include enzymes, certain hormones, hemoglobin, low-density lipoprotein ("bad" cholesterol), and others.
Serum proteins are classified as albumin or globulins. Albumin is the protein of highest concentration in the serum. It carries many small molecules, but is also important for keeping fluid from leaking out from the blood vessels into the tissues.
Globulins are divided into alpha-1, alpha-2, beta, and gamma globulins. In general, alpha-1 and alpha-2 protein levels increase when there is inflammation in the body.
Normal Results Return to top
Note: g/dL = grams per deciliter
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
Decreased total protein may indicate:
Risks Return to top
There is very little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
References Return to top
McPherson R. Specific proteins. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders; 2006:chap 19.Update Date: 3/2/2009 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.