What is a Globulin Test?

Globulins are a group of proteins in your blood. They are made in your liver by your immune system. Globulins play an important role in liver function, blood clotting, and fighting infection. There are different types of globulins called alpha, beta, and gamma globulins. Tests to measure globulins include:

  • Total protein test. This blood test measures the total amount of protein in your blood. The two main types of blood proteins are globulins and albumin. If protein levels are low, it can mean that you have liver or kidney disease.
  • Serum protein electrophoresis. This blood test measures the level of each type of protein in your blood, including the different types of globulins. The levels of specific globulins provide information about how well your immune system is working. So, this test can be used to diagnose disorders of the immune system, a type of cancer called multiple myeloma, and a variety of other conditions.

Other names for globulin tests: Serum globulin electrophoresis, total protein

What is it used for?

Globulin tests can be used to help diagnose a variety of conditions, including:

  • Liver damage or disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Nutritional problems
  • Certain autoimmune disorders
  • Certain types of cancer

Why do I need a globulin test?

Your health care provider may order globulin tests:

  • As part of your regular checkup
  • To help diagnose specific conditions when you have symptoms
  • To monitor liver or kidney problems

A total protein test may be included in a comprehensive metabolic panel, which is often part of a routine checkup. Your provider may order the test if you have symptoms of kidney or liver disease.

If your provider thinks you may have a liver disease, a total protein test may be done with other tests that check how well your liver is working. These tests are called liver function tests. Your provider may order them if you are at risk for liver disease or have symptoms of liver disease, which may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice, a condition that causes your skin and eyes to turn yellow
  • Swelling and/or pain in your abdomen (belly)
  • Swelling in your ankles and legs
  • Dark-colored urine (pee) and/or light-colored stool (poop)
  • Frequent itching

A serum protein electrophoresis test measures the levels of the different types of globulins and other proteins in your blood. Your provider may order this test to diagnose disorders related to your immune system, including:

  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Multiple myeloma, a type of cancer

What happens during a globulin test?

Globulin tests are blood tests. During a blood test, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

There is no special preparation necessary for a globulin blood test. But if your health care provider has ordered other tests on your blood sample, you may need to fast (not eat or drink) for several hours before the test. Your provider will let you know if there are any special instructions to follow.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may experience slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

Low globulin levels may be a sign of liver or kidney disease, or malnutrition.

High globulin levels may be a sign of:

  • Infection
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Immune disorders
  • Certain cancers, such as multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma (also called Hodgkin disease), or malignant lymphoma.