Species: All

Specimen: Plasma or serum

Container: EDTA, heparin or red-top tube

Collection protocol: Fasted sample preferred

Special handling/shipping requirements: Standard

General information about the disease: Helpful in the assessment of a wide variety of conditions (see below).

General information about when this test is indicated: The smallest protein in plasma which accounts for the majority of the oncotic pressure of blood and is an important carrier protein (for bile acids, free fatty acids, bilirubin, Ca, hormones, drugs). Made in liver, enters blood, catabolised by many tissues. A negative acute phase reactant in inflammation.

Major differentials:

  • Increase: Dehydration (globulin may also increase proportionately). Glucocorticoids may cause mild increases in dogs and possibly cats.
  • Decrease: Inflammation, reduced protein intake, malabsorption, maldigestion/exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, hepatic disease, protein losing enteropathy, protein losing nephropathy, haemorrhage, effusive disease, exudative disease, severe burns, haemodilution (e.g. IV fluids), hypoadrenocorticism, cachexia, hyperglobulinaemias.

Comparison with other related tests: Interpret in conjunction with total protein/globulin to help differentiate possible causes e.g. after external haemorrhage albumin and globulin are expected to reduce in parallel.