Also Known As
TP
Formal Name
Total Protein; Albumin to Globulin Ratio
This article was last reviewed on
This article waslast modified on 28 August 2019.
At a Glance
Why Get Tested?

Mostly forms a part of a liver function test profile, and not often requested in isolation. It can be used to calculate globulin which may indicate activation or depletion of immune system (immunoglobulin). Can help indicate certain liver, kidney disorders and several other diseases.

When To Get Tested?

Rarely required alone. Forms part of other test profiles such as liver function tests.

Sample Required?

A blood taken from a vein

Test Preparation Needed?

None

On average it takes 7 working days for the blood test results to come back from the hospital, depending on the exact tests requested. Some specialist test results may take longer, if samples have to be sent to a reference (specialist) laboratory. The X-ray & scan results may take longer. If you are registered to use the online services of your local practice, you may be able to access your results online. Your GP practice will be able to provide specific details.

If the doctor wants to see you about the result(s), you will be offered an appointment. If you are concerned about your test results, you will need to arrange an appointment with your doctor so that all relevant information including age, ethnicity, health history, signs and symptoms, laboratory and other procedures (radiology, endoscopy, etc.), can be considered.

Lab Tests Online-UK is an educational website designed to provide patients and carers with information on laboratory tests used in medical care. We are not a laboratory and are unable to comment on an individual's health and treatment.

Reference ranges are dependent on many factors, including patient age, sex, sample population, and test method, and numeric test results can have different meanings in different laboratories.

For these reasons, you will not find reference ranges for the majority of tests described on this web site. The lab report containing your test results should include the relevant reference range for your test(s). Please consult your doctor or the laboratory that performed the test(s) to obtain the reference range if you do not have the lab report.

For more information on reference ranges, please read Reference Ranges and What They Mean.

What is being tested?

The total protein test is a rough measure of all of the proteins in the plasma portion of your blood. Proteins are important building blocks of all cells and tissues. Total protein measures the combined amount of proteins the two major two classes of which are albumin and immunoglobulin. Albumin is a carrier of many small molecules, but its main purpose is to keep fluid from leaking out of blood vessels, while immunoglobulin proteins are antibodies. To a much lesser extent enzymes and more than 500 other proteins contribute to the total protein.

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Common Questions
  • How is it used?

    An abnormal total protein concentration may indicate a problem in one or both of the main types of proteins. Further tests may be done to find which particular protein is abnormal, so that a diagnosis can be made.

  • When is it requested?

    Total protein is usually measured along with several other tests when the liver is being tested.

  • What does the test result mean?

    Low total protein levels can suggest a liver disorder, a kidney disorder, or a disorder in which protein is not digested or absorbed properly or immunoglobulin not being made (for example in bone marrow failure). More specific tests, such as albumin and liver enzyme blood tests, must be performed to make an accurate diagnosis. High total protein levels can indicate dehydration or some types of cancer, that lead to an accumulation of an abnormal protein (such as immunoglobulin in multiple myeloma).

  • Is there anything else I should know?

    Prolonged application of a tourniquet during blood collection can increase total protein levels. Drugs that may increase protein levels include anabolic steroids, androgens, growth hormone, insulin, and progesterone. Drugs that may decrease protein levels include oestrogens.

  • Can I test for protein levels at home?

    No, there is no home test available and it is unlikely to be of any value without a range of other tests being performed and the results interpreted together.