Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum

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Also known as: Beta2Microglobulin Serum

Beta 2 Microglobulin,

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The Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The Beta-2-Microglobulin (B2M) serum test is a laboratory analysis that measures the concentration of beta-2-microglobulin in the blood serum. Beta-2-microglobulin is a small protein that is freely filtered by the kidneys and released into the bloodstream. This test is valuable for assessing kidney function and monitoring certain diseases, especially those affecting the kidneys and immune system.

Also Known As: B2M Test, β2-Microglobulin Test, Thymotaxin Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Beta-2 Microglobulin test ordered?

A Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test may be ordered for various reasons, including:

  • Kidney Disease: To evaluate kidney function and detect early signs of kidney damage.
  • Monitoring Cancer: Particularly for multiple myeloma and lymphoma patients, as elevated levels of B2M can indicate disease progression.
  • Inflammatory Disorders: To assess disease activity in autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

What does a Beta-2 Microglobulin test check for?

Almost every cell in the body has beta-2 microglobulin on its surface. Cells, notably B lymphocytes and tumor cells, release this protein into the blood. It is found in the majority of bodily fluids, and when the immune system is stimulated or when cell creation and/or destruction are increased, its level rises.

With tumors like multiple myeloma and lymphoma, as well as with inflammatory conditions and infections, B2M is typically high in the blood. B2M may be useful as a tumor marker because it is elevated in blood cell malignancies. This page concentrates on its usage as a tumor marker, despite the fact that it can be used to evaluate kidney function.

Blood cell malignancies that have migrated to the brain, such lymphoma, as well as some chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis and viral infections like HIV can cause a rise in the B2M level in the CSF of affected individuals.

Lab tests often ordered with a Beta-2 Microglobulin test:

When a B2M test is ordered, it's usually part of a broader evaluation of hematological disorders and kidney function. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC) with Differential:

    • Purpose: To evaluate overall blood health, including red and white blood cells, and platelets.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To check for signs of anemia, infection, or other hematological abnormalities often associated with blood cancers.
  2. Serum Protein Electrophoresis (SPEP):

    • Purpose: To identify and measure various proteins in the blood, particularly to detect abnormal monoclonal protein bands (M-proteins).
    • Why Is It Ordered: To help diagnose and monitor multiple myeloma and other plasma cell disorders.
  3. Urine Protein Electrophoresis (UPEP) and Immunofixation Electrophoresis:

    • Purpose: To detect and identify proteins, specifically Bence Jones proteins, in the urine.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To detect light chain myeloma or other conditions associated with abnormal protein production.
  4. Kidney Function Tests:

    • Purpose: To evaluate kidney function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Because B2M is cleared by the kidneys, abnormal levels can indicate kidney dysfunction. It's also important for staging and prognosis in multiple myeloma.
  5. Calcium Level:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of calcium in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To detect hypercalcemia, which can occur in bone diseases and malignancies like multiple myeloma.
  6. Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH):

    • Purpose: To measure LDH, an enzyme that can be elevated in tissue breakdown or damage.
    • Why Is It Ordered: As an indicator of tumor burden and prognosis in certain cancers.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Beta-2-Microglobulin test, provide a comprehensive assessment of potential blood cancers and kidney function. They are crucial for diagnosing conditions like multiple myeloma, assessing disease severity, monitoring treatment response, and evaluating kidney health. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual’s symptoms, clinical presentation, and medical history.

Conditions where a Beta-2 Microglobulin test is recommended:

The Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test is essential for:

  • Kidney Diseases: To evaluate kidney function and identify early signs of kidney damage.
  • Multiple Myeloma: As elevated B2M levels are commonly associated with this cancer.
  • Lymphomas: Certain types of lymphomas can lead to increased B2M levels.

How does my health care provider use a Beta-2 Microglobulin test?

On the surface of almost every cell in the body is beta-2 microglobulin. This protein is released into the blood by cells, particularly B lymphocytes and tumor cells. The majority of body fluids contain it, and its level increases when the immune system is activated or when cell formation and/or destruction are elevated.

B2M is generally elevated in the blood with cancers such multiple myeloma and lymphoma, as well as with inflammatory diseases and infections. Due to the fact that B2M is raised in blood cell malignancies, it may be useful as a tumor marker. Despite the fact that it can be used to assess kidney function, this page focuses on its use as a tumor marker.

A spike in the B2M level in the CSF of affected people can be brought on by blood cell malignancies that have spread to the brain, including lymphoma, as well as some chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis and viral infections like HIV.

What do my Beta-2 Microglobulin test results mean?

Increased levels of B2M in the blood and/or urine point to a problem but do not serve as a diagnosis for any particular illness or condition. They do, however, represent the level of cancer present and the severity of the disease. If the B2M level is highly raised, someone who has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma or lymphoma is likely to have a worse prognosis.

When multiple myeloma is being treated, a patient's levels should gradually decline over time to show whether the patient is improving. Levels that are stable or rising suggest that the subject is not responding.

Increases in the CSF in a person with an illness like HIV/AIDS suggest that the central nervous system is probably involved.

Most Common Questions About the Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test:

Clinical Utility and Interpretation

What does the Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test measure?

The Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test measures the levels of beta-2-microglobulin in the blood. Beta-2-microglobulin is a protein found on the surface of most cells, especially white blood cells, and its level can provide insights into the function of the kidneys and the presence of certain tumors.

How are elevated levels of beta-2-microglobulin in the serum significant?

Elevated levels of beta-2-microglobulin in the serum can indicate kidney disease, especially in the filtering units of the kidneys. High levels can also be seen in certain lymphomas and leukemias, indicating the extent and activity of the disease.

Clinical Applications and Diagnoses

Why might a doctor order a Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test?

A doctor might order the Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test to evaluate kidney function, especially if other kidney tests give conflicting results. Additionally, the test can be useful in monitoring the progression or treatment response of certain cancers like multiple myeloma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and some lymphomas.

How does the Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test relate to kidney function?

Beta-2-microglobulin is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. If the kidneys aren't functioning well, levels of beta-2-microglobulin will rise in the serum, making it an indirect measure of kidney function.

Comparative Insights

How does the Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test compare to other kidney function tests?

While the Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test can provide insights into kidney function, it's just one of many tests that assess kidney health. It's unique in that it can provide information about the specific filtering function of the kidneys, as opposed to tests like creatinine which measure overall kidney function.

Understanding Limitations and Challenges

Does inflammation affect the Beta-2-Microglobulin, Serum test results?

Yes, inflammation can cause an increase in the blood levels of many proteins, including beta-2-microglobulin. This means that conditions causing inflammation, such as viral infections or autoimmune diseases, could potentially elevate beta-2-microglobulin levels.

Is beta-2-microglobulin elevated in all cancers?

No, while beta-2-microglobulin is elevated in some lymphomas, leukemias, and multiple myeloma, it's not a universal marker for all cancers. Each cancer type has its own unique characteristics and markers, and the relevance of beta-2-microglobulin varies.

Additional Questions and Insights

Are there any conditions other than kidney disease and cancer that might elevate beta-2-microglobulin levels?

Yes, other than kidney disease and certain cancers, levels of beta-2-microglobulin can be elevated in conditions such as HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, and other autoimmune diseases.

What might cause decreased levels of beta-2-microglobulin in the serum?

Decreased levels of beta-2-microglobulin are relatively rare and aren't usually considered clinically significant. However, high fluid intake, certain kidney conditions where there's excessive loss of proteins, and some genetic variations could potentially lead to decreased levels.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

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