Globulins are a group of proteins in your blood produced by the liver and immune system. Globulins play an important role in liver function, blood clotting and fighting infection.
This test is used mainly as part of the assessment of the liver function, kidney function as well as bone profile.
Albumin is the most abundant protein in your blood made by the liver and hence is very sensitive to any liver damage. It has several important functions including keeping blood vessels from leaking fluid as well as nourishing tissues. It also helps transport various hormones, vitamins, medications, enzymes and ions like calcium around the body.
This tests for a rough measure of all the proteins in the plasma portion of your blood. Proteins are important for building all cells and tissues. There are 2 major classes of proteins in the plasma albumin and globulin.
Bilirubin is a metabolite produced from haemoglobin (a chemical in red blood cells that helps to carry oxygen) when red blood cells break down. The liver then converts this bilirubin (unconjugated) to another type of bilirubin (conjugated), which is then secreted into bile and then the intestine turning stools brown.
Alanine transferase (ALT) is an enzyme found mainly in the liver with small amounts located in the heart, muscles and kidneys. When the liver is damaged ALT is released into the bloodstream, which occurs before more obvious signs of liver damage appear.
Gamma-Glutamyl transferase (GGT) is an enzyme found mainly in the liver. The GGT blood test helps to detect liver disease and bile duct injury. GGT can also be used to screen for alcohol abuse as it will be raised in about 75% of long-term consumers of excessive alcohol use. Levels of GGT increase with age in women, but not in men but levels tend to be higher in men than women.
Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme that is found in high amounts in liver cells and in bone. Smaller amounts of ALP are found in the intestine, kidney and the placenta of pregnant women. It is a non-specific enzyme and helps in the breakdown of various proteins.
This blood test should ideally be performed after a period of fasting such as first thing in the morning, as eating a meal can increase ALP levels slightly for a few hours in some people.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as the “bad cholesterol” as if there is an oversupply of this cholesterol for the cells, it can build up in the artery walls leading to cardiovascular disease.
A newer type of test that measures all the non-HDL cholesterol (ie all the “bad cholesterol”) is now used instead of LDL cholesterol in monitoring cholesterol levels and calculating cardiovascular risk as it is more accurate. It should ideally be < 4 mmol/L.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is known as the “good cholesterol” as it carries LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”) away from the cells and back to the liver, where it is broken down or sent for excretion.
The total cholesterol blood test measures the total amount of cholesterol in the body by adding the “good cholesterol” levels to the “bad cholesterol” levels. It is used to estimate the risk of developing a disease, specifically cardiovascular disease.
Total Cholesterol: HDL ratio
The test calculates the ratio between the total cholesterol and the HDL cholesterol. Generally, a ratio of under 4 is usually regarded as a sign of healthy cholesterol levels.
Triglycerides are our main source of energy, and we attain them either through our diet (meat, dairy produce, cooking oils and fats) or produced by our liver (VLDL). When we absorb triglycerides, they are either used for energy straight away or stored away until they are needed.
Creatinine is produced at a fairly constant rate from one day to the next, and is only removed from the body by kidney filtration. This means that the creatinine level in the bloodstream can be used to track how well the kidneys are clearing waste products.
The amount of creatinine produced depends on gender (men usually have higher amounts due to more muscle), age of the person and their muscle mass. Ethnicity can also impact on levels (Afro-Americans are known to have higher levels).
The UIBC (Unsaturated Iron Binding Capacity) measures the number of areas on the protein transferrin that have not bound to iron. It is therefore used if iron-deficiency anaemia is suspected or detected.
Urea is the waste product made by nitrogen from the breakdown of proteins in the liver combining with other chemicals. This urea is released into the bloodstream and is carried to the kidneys, where it is filtered out of the blood and excreted into urine.
Glomeruli are filters in your kidneys that allow waste products to be removed from the blood while preventing loss of proteins and blood cells. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) refers to the amount of blood that is filtered per minute and that is calculated using the serum creatinine level, plus age, gender and ethnic origin.
Iron is an important component in the production of red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen around the body.
The TIBC (Total Iron Binding Capacity) is measure of the ability of the blood to attach itself to iron and transport it around the body. It is therefore used if iron-deficiency anaemia is suspected or detected.
This test is used to test for the amount of transferrin that is available in the blood to transport iron and is usually used if iron-deficiency anaemia or iron overload is suspected or detected.
Uric acid is created from the breakdown of purines in the blood. Most of the uric acid is passed out with the urine and some from with the stools (faeces). If your kidneys don’t filter out enough uric acid or there are high levels in the blood, it can build up and turn into microscopic crystals. These crystals can collect in joints, which irritates the tissues causing pain, swelling and inflammation – known as Gout.
Creatine Kinase (CK) is an enzyme that is present in all muscle tissue. Any trauma or damage to muscle will result in this enzyme being released from cells and into the plasma.
CK levels can be used in the investigation of heart disease and heart attacks (although these have now be replaced by more specific markers called troponins). It also can be used in the investigation of musculoskeletal diseases (e.g. muscular dystrophy) or if certain medications are causing muscle breakdown (statins).