Your globulin levels will affect the amount of ample proteins in the blood stream. If these proteins are not kept at the proper ration, it can be difficult for the body to properly fight infection, clot or transport nutrients to the muscles, leading to health difficulties for the patient. Medical examinations must be done to determine if the globulin levels are where they should be, and what might be causing them to be lower or higher than normal. Medications can then be used to help return the globulin levels to the normal stage to avoid any potential dangers.
What is Globulin?
Globulin is a generic term used to describe a set of sixty proteins including the antibodies or gamma globulins and protein-carbohydrate compounds known as glycoprotein. There are four basic groups of globulin proteins known as the alpha-1, alpha-2, beta and gamma proteins. These are used to help transport proteins through the lipoproteins and assisting the blood in clotting. They also act as plasma cells which indicate whether there is an antibody deficiency in the blood stream. The liver produces much of the alpha and beta globulins used for this purpose.
The level of these proteins is measured against the levels of albumin, the other major type of protein in the bloodstream. A specific ratio must be met in order to maintain healthy circulatory function. Ratios of globulin compared to albumin can be low or high, and each presents its own dangers.
Tests will be used to determine the specific levels of different types of globulin in the blood stream. These levels will fall into one of three categories. If your globulin levels are normal you will have a total level of 6.0-8.4 gm/dL of protein in the blood stream. Ideally, this level will fall at 7.5 g/dL. This should be comprised approximately of 3.5-5 gm/dL of albumin and 2.3-3.5 gm/dL of globulin. Ideally, albumin levels will fall at 4.5-5/100 ml, alpha globulin levels will remain at .2-.3 g/L and beta globulin levels will fall at .7-1.0 g/L.
Low Globulin Levels. If the globulin levels fall below this normal range it can be a sign of several serious health conditions. Renal disease, hepatic dysfunction, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), acute hemolytic anemia, agammaglobulinemia and hypogammaglobulinemia can cause the globulin levels to drop. This is also a sign that proteins taken in by the digestive system are not being broken down or absorbed properly.
High globulin levels. Those with high globulin levels may be suffering from leukemia or other bone marrow disorders, autoimmunity diseases such as lupus or collagen diseases, chronic inflammatory diseases such as syphilis, waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, liver disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, carcinoid syndrome, kidney disease or a chronic viral or bacterial infection. Further testing will be necessary to determine which of these disorders is causing the globulin levels to rise so adequate treatment can be administered.
The proper globulin to albumin ratio is 1:2, though this can range from 1.7-2.2 and still remain healthy. If this ratio changes to an extreme level it can cause a number of health concerns. High levels of globulin can be caused by an overproduction of globulin, an underproduction of albumin or a loss of albumin. Albumin can be lost due to kidney disorders which lead to an excessive amount of protein being shed from the body.
You may also see an increase in the globulin ratio if you are suffering from hypogammaglobulinemia, which can be caused by a genetic disorder or cancers such as leukemia. Hypothyroidism can also alter the levels of globulin in the system, as can glucocorticoid, which can be caused by a tumor that releases cortisol-mimicking compounds, an overactive adrenal gland or excessive use of cortisone or cortisone-mimicking medications. If you consume a high carb or high protein diet that is not being monitored, it can cause the body's retention of protein to suffer, which can also lead to an altered globulin ratio.
Prevention and Treatment
A medical examination will be necessary to determine if the body is suffering from an altered globulin ratio. Your doctor will perform a protein components test to measure the levels of albumin, alpha and beta globulin proteins. A small blood sample can be used to determine the levels of these proteins throughout the body, which will help your doctor determine if the ratios of proteins in your system is at a healthy level. Those who suffer from liver or kidney disorders will have these levels checked frequently to determine if their body is functioning safely. If there is a distinct alteration in your globulin levels you will need to get medical attention right away to avoid doing serious damage to the body.
Drugs need attention. Some drugs such as androgens, growth hormone, steroids, progesterone or insulin will raise the protein levels at an unsafe rate. Similarly, estrogen medications, or drugs that create a toxic atmosphere in the liver can cause globulin levels to drop to a point which is unsafe. If you have recently started using a new medication and your protein levels appear to be altering, you will need to talk to your doctor about changing or eliminating your prescription.
Severe conditions. If a protein test has found significantly altered globulin levels, this can be a sign that you are suffering from a kidney wasting disease, kidney dysfunction, impaired nutrition, immune disorders, cancer or liver dysfunction. Your doctor will look at your other symptoms to help them determine what might be causing your globulin ratio to alter so that proper treatment can be administered. This may include removing a tumor, starting cancer treatment, altering the diet, taking medication or starting a dialysis program to help the body manage the bloodstream more effectively.