This laboratory test is based on the different composition of protein fractions present in the plasma. When placed in an alkaline solution and subjected to a direct current with a positive and a negative pole, these protein fractions migrate differently due to both their molecular weight and their characteristic isoelectric point.


With this simple method, which has been widely used in all laboratories for some time, it is possible to identify the various types of proteins present in the plasma and their quantitative ratio. In lymphology, this test should be requested for all patients with primary lymphedema, which is congenital-hereditary in nature, to check for possible hypoproteinemia, which is quite common in chylous reflux diseases or intestinal lymphangiodysplasia, often associated with protein-losing enteropathy. 

How Protein Electrophoresis Works 

Protein electrophoresis is based on the different mobility of proteins in an electric field. The patient’s blood or urine is placed on a strip of cellulose or agarose gel and then subjected to an electric field. Proteins move along the strip at different speeds based on their sizes and electrical charges. This separation allows for the distinction of various proteins present in the analyzed sample. 

Components of Protein Electrophoresis 

Albumin: Albumin is the most abundant protein in the blood and appears as a narrow band at the beginning of the strip. Alpha-1-globulin: This fraction contains various proteins, including alpha-1-antitrypsin and alpha-1-acid glycoprotein. Alpha-2-globulin: This fraction includes alpha-2-macroglobulin and alpha-2-antiplasmin, among other proteins. Beta-globulin: This fraction contains various proteins, such as apolipoprotein B and transferrin. Gamma-globulin: This fraction is mainly composed of immunoglobulins (antibodies) produced by the immune system to fight infections. 

Use of Protein Electrophoresis in Diagnosis 

Protein electrophoresis is widely used in the diagnosis and monitoring of various hematological diseases, including: 

Multiple Myeloma: In multiple myeloma, a disease characterized by the proliferation of plasma cells, it is common to observe a monoclonal spike in the gamma-globulin fraction. Liver Diseases: Protein electrophoresis can help assess liver conditions such as hepatitis and cirrhosis by analyzing changes in the alpha and beta-globulin fractions. Inflammatory Diseases: Chronic inflammatory diseases can cause an increase in acute phase proteins, visible as spikes in the alpha-1 and alpha-2 globulin fractions. Anemia: Protein electrophoresis can be used to assess certain forms of anemia, such as hemolytic anemia, by analyzing changes in the alpha-2-globulin fraction. Nephrotic Syndrome: Nephrotic syndromes can lead to excessive protein loss in the urine, resulting in a reduction in gamma-globulins and a possible decrease in albumin. 

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