July 21, 2020

What is Globulin?

Globulins are a family of proteins which are not soluble in water but do dissolve in dilute salt solutions. Globulins are made by both the liver and the immune system and make up a large proportion of blood serum protein.[1]

Why take a Globulin blood test?

Proteins are essential building blocks of all cells and tissues. These proteins are needed for our overall health as well as growth and development. There are two types of serum protein, albumin and globulins. Different proteins make up the globulin family and many bind with haemoglobin in the blood while some are involved in the transportation of metals and others are part of the immune system’s response to fighting infection.

Globulin levels can rise in response to some infections and diseases. Equally, it can reduce because of some conditions, illnesses and deficiencies.

You can test your globulin levels by purchasing a simple at-home finger prick test kit which is then analysed at an accredited lab. Forth offers a number of blood tests which include globulin such as a liver function test which can be purchased for just £39.00.

What function does Globulin have in the body?

Globulins make up a large proportion of blood serum proteins which includes carrier proteins, enzymes and immunoglobulins. Globulins can be split into five groups, α1, α2, β1, β2 and γ. Globulins play a variety of roles in the human body.

Major αglobulins are macroglobulin and haptoglobin. Haptoglobin binds free haemoglobin from broken down red blood cells.[2] Whereas, macroglobulin is a multifunctional binding protein.[3]

A major β globulin is a transferrin, a protein which attaches to iron molecules and transports it in the blood. Transferrin is responsible for regulating the body’s iron absorption into the blood.[4]

How do changes in Globulin affect health and wellbeing?

Depending on which globulin is affected will depend on the symptoms it can cause. For example, an increase in the αglobulin, antitrypsin is seen in inflammatory disorders because it is an acute phase reactant. This means its concentration in the blood increases in response to inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by injury, infection or conditions such as arthritis, all of which can be unpleasant and uncomfortable.[5]

If a total protein count is taken, high protein levels can indicate dehydration. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more fluid than it’s taking in and if left untreated it can be serious. Dehydration can make you feel quite unwell and some of the symptoms are uncomfortable.[6]

If you are worried about your globulin level or just want to check where you fall on the range, you can test your level with a simple at-home blood test.

What can cause Globulin to change?

Dehydration can cause protein levels in the blood to change but following rehydration, they should return to normal.[7] Dehydration is more likely to occur if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Been sweating too much after exercising
  • A high temperature over 38oC
  • Been taking diuretics which make you pee more
  • Spent too much time in the sun (heatstroke)

Some globulin levels can rise in response to inflammation, infection, oestrogen levels and injury. Individuals who smoke are more at risk of increased globulin levels, particularly antitrypsin, these individuals also have a higher level of background inflammation.[8] Inflammatory disease like arthritis can also cause a rise in serum globulin levels.

What are the most common symptoms?

The common symptoms of chronic inflammation are:

  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Depression, anxiety and mood changes
  • Weight gain
  • Gastrointestinal complications such as constipation, diarrhoea and acid reflux[9]

The classic signs of acute inflammation are:

  • Pain
  • Heat
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Loss of function

Common signs of dehydration include:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth, lips and eyes
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Peeing less often, less than 4 times per day
  • Dark yellow, strong smelling pee

How to keep Globulin in the healthy range

Inflammation is an important aspect of tissue repair after it has been injured. However, environmental factors such as smoking can increase the progression and severity of inflammation.[10] Acute phase reactant (ARP) concentrations rise during inflammation and because some globulins are examples of ARPs, their levels also rise. Quitting smoking can help to reduce inflammation and individuals with lung disease like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can slow down its progression by giving up.[11]

Exercise has many significant benefits for our health. Some research has shown that it can also reduce fat mass and adipose tissue inflammation which can cause systemic inflammation.[12] Exercise has  been used to reduce inflammation in elderly individuals. [13]

A decrease in globulins can occur through malnutrition. Therefore, it is essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet. You should incorporate foods from all the main food groups into your diet, such as:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • some milk and dairy foods
  • some meat, fish and eggs plus some non-dairy sources of protein
  • starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta.

- Health scores calculated



[1] Lab Tests Online UK. (2017). Globulin. Available at:

[2] Shih, A, W et al. (2014). Haptoglobulin Testing in Hemolysis: Measurement and Interpretation. Am J Hematol: 89(4), pp 443-447.

[3] Borth, W. (1992). Alpha 2-Macroglobulin, A Multifunctional Binding Protein with Targeting Characteristics. FASEB: 6(15), pp 3345-3353.

[4] Lab Tests Online UK. (2014). TIBC, UIBC and Transferrin. Available at:

[5] Gulhar, R and Jialal, I. (2019). Physiology, Acute Phase Reactants. In: StatPearls [Internet].

[6] NHS. (2017). Dehydration. Available at:

[7] Ashraf, M and Rea, R. (2017). Effect of Dehydration on Blood Tests. Practical Diabetes: 34.

[8] Sanders, C, L., Ponte, A and Kueppers, F. (2017). The Effects of Inflammation on Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Levels in A National Screening Cohort. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: 15(1), pp 10-16.

[9] Pahwa, R and Jialal, I. (2019). Chronic Inflammation. In: Stat Pearls [Internet].

[10] Goncalves, R, B et al. (2011). Impact of Smoking on Inflammation: Overview of Molecular Mechanisms. Inflammation Research: 60(5), pp 409-424.

[11] Willemse, B, W, M et al. (2005). Effect of 1-Year Smoking Cessation on Airway Inflammation in COPD and Asymptomatic Smokers. European Respiratory Journal

[12] Woods, J, A et al. (2012). Exercise, Inflammation and Aging. Aging Dis: 3(1), pp 130-140.

[13] Nicklas, B, J and Brinkley, T, E. (2010). Exercise Training as a Treatment for Chronic Inflammation in the Elderly. Exerc Sport Sci Rev: 37(4), pp 165-170.

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This information has been medically reviewed by Dr Nicky Keay

Nicola has extensive clinical and research experience in the fields of endocrinology and sport and exercise medicine. Nicky is a member of the Royal College of Physicians, Honorary Fellow in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Durham University and former Research Fellow at St. Thomas' Hospital.

Dr Nicky Keay

Dr Nicky Keay

BA, MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, MRCP.