3 things you might not know about Albumin – plus 3 hidden pearls of wisdom

If you have a client with suspected Liver dysfunction, perhaps they are presenting with unexplained fatigue or have signs of jaundice or weight loss, running functional tests that include the Albumin marker can make a big difference to their health outcome. This marker is frequently included in routine blood panels by doctors – most often as part of a metabolic panel if Liver dysfunction is suspected.

You may already know that Albumin is the most abundant plasma protein made in the liver, responsible for modulation of osmotic gradient and fluid balance between cells and tissues as well as binding and transporting a number of hormones, fatty acids, electrolytes and bilirubin – but there are a few things you may not be so clear on.

1.      Why is the Albumin marker important in your clients’ big picture?

Albumin is an essential marker and low serum levels have been found to be associated with increased mortality. As a practitioner, the importance of understanding your clients’ Albumin level and what it could mean for them when it is out of range or sub-optimal, cannot be overstated.

2.      “What could elevated Albumin levels indicate?”

  • Most commonly, dehydration leading to a higher plasma concentration
  • Very high protein diet

3.      “What could low Albumin levels indicate?”

  • Insufficient dietary protein or malabsorption/hypochlorhydria
  • Liver dysfunction, as it is produced almost entirely by the liver
  • Kidney damage, as this may lead to loss of proteins
  • Vitamin C need
  • Pregnancy

And that’s not all.

Some hidden pearls for you:

  • Albumin is a negative acute phase reactant, meaning its production will decrease if there is an active infection or inflammation – so look out for other hidden infection markers in the WBCs, iron markers, glucose metabolism etc
  • Albumin can have a relationship with thyroid function. It transports 10% of circulating thyroxine (with thyroxine binding globulin and transthyretin transporting the rest). Interestingly, the degradation of albumin is reduced in hypothyroidism, so high serum albumin may be associated with thyroid hypofunction. In line with this,  serum albumin levels have been found to decrease to a normal level with thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
  • Albumin transports thiols such as glutathione. Therefore, if low it can be an indirect indicator of low Glutathione and oxidative stress. Look out for other oxidative stress markers such as high ferritin, high GGT etc

As always, to fully make sense of what the meaning of this marker is in any given individual’s blood, it needs to be considered holistically: in the context of the individual’s clinical presentation, alongside many other markers and considering the patterns and trends that can reveal what’s going on underneath the surface for your client.

FDX tests include reports on trends using optimal values; identifying and creating a more sensitive assessment of preventative or curative measures you and your clients can undertake to support their healthcare goals. Log in to your Fdx account now to order panels for your clients.