Your Total Protein measures the two major types of protein in your blood. Proteins are vital for our health and body growth and are the building blocks of all our cells and tissues.
This test includes albumin and globulin. Albumin is a carrier of many small molecules, but its main purpose is to keep fluid from leaking out of blood vessels. Globulin proteins are a group of proteins that include enzymes, antibodies, and more than 500 other proteins.
Total protein is usually measured as part of a ‘liver function’ test. Total protein may also be measured along with several other tests if you have symptoms that suggest a kidney disorder, or if your have swelling due to fluid collecting in your tissues (oedema).
High total protein levels most commonly indicate dehydration. It can also indicate an accumulation of proteins other than albumin in the blood (e.g. during chronic inflammation), which can be calculated by subtracting your albumin result from the total protein.
Low total protein levels may suggest a liver disorder, a kidney disorder, or a disorder in which protein is not digested or absorbed properly. Other tests, such as albumin and liver function tests are required to investigate the cause. A low total protein can also occur during pregnancy and congestive heart failure, due to dilution of blood.