Prealbumin

The Prealbumin test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Brief Description: The prealbumin test, also known as transthyretin (TTR) test, is a laboratory test that measures the levels of prealbumin in the blood. Prealbumin is a protein primarily produced by the liver and plays a crucial role in transporting thyroid hormones and vitamin A.

Also Known As: Thyroxine-binding Prealbumin Test, Transthyretin Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Prealbumin test ordered?

A prealbumin test may be ordered in the following situations:

  1. Nutritional Assessment: The test is commonly ordered as part of a nutritional assessment to evaluate a patient's overall nutritional status. It helps assess the adequacy of protein intake and the body's ability to synthesize proteins.

  2. Monitoring Malnutrition: The test is useful for monitoring malnutrition and evaluating the effectiveness of nutritional interventions in patients who are at risk of or have developed malnutrition. It provides insight into the body's protein synthesis and turnover.

  3. Assessing Liver Function: As prealbumin is predominantly synthesized by the liver, the test may be used as an additional marker to assess liver function. Decreased prealbumin levels may indicate liver dysfunction or impaired protein synthesis.

What does a Prealbumin blood test check for?

Prealbumin, commonly known as transthyretin, is a significant protein in the blood that is largely produced by the liver. Its job is to transport thyroxine and vitamin A around the body. This test determines the blood amount of prealbumin.

Despite its widespread usage as a malnutrition indicator, research is still underway to better understand the functions of prealbumin in the body, including the causes for changes seen during illness and the clinical relevance of prealbumin testing.

Lab tests often ordered with a Prealbumin test:

When a Prealbumin test is ordered, it's often part of a broader evaluation of nutritional status, liver function, and overall health. Here are some tests commonly ordered alongside it:

  1. Albumin:

    • Purpose: To measure the level of albumin, a major protein in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Albumin levels can provide additional insight into nutritional status and liver function. Low levels may indicate malnutrition, liver disease, or chronic illness.
  2. Complete Blood Count (CBC):

    • Purpose: Provides a broad picture of overall blood health, including red and white blood cells, and platelets.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess general health and detect signs of anemia or infection, which can affect nutritional status.
  3. Liver Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess liver health.
    • Why Is It Ordered: The liver produces many proteins, including prealbumin and albumin, so liver disorders can affect their levels.
  4. C-Reactive Protein (CRP):

    • Purpose: A marker of inflammation in the body.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To assess for the presence of inflammation, which can affect protein levels and nutritional status.
  5. Electrolyte Panel:

    • Purpose: To measure key electrolytes in the blood.
    • Why Is It Ordered: To evaluate overall electrolyte balance and kidney function, which can be affected by nutritional status.
  6. Creatinine and Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN):

    • Purpose: To assess kidney function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Kidney function can influence protein levels and nutritional status.
  7. Thyroid Function Test:

    • Purpose: To assess thyroid function.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Thyroid hormones can affect metabolic rate and protein metabolism.
  8. Fasting Glucose and Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c):

    • Purpose: To measure blood sugar levels and assess for diabetes.
    • Why Is It Ordered: Diabetes and glucose metabolism can affect nutritional status and overall health.

These tests, when ordered alongside a Prealbumin test, provide a comprehensive view of an individual’s nutritional status, liver and kidney function, and overall health. They are essential for diagnosing and managing conditions related to malnutrition, chronic illness, and inflammation. The specific combination of tests will depend on the individual’s symptoms, medical history, and the reasons for assessing nutritional status.

Conditions where a Prealbumin test is recommended:

A prealbumin test is useful in the following conditions or situations:

  1. Malnutrition: The test is commonly ordered in cases of suspected or diagnosed malnutrition. It helps assess protein status and monitor the response to nutritional interventions.

  2. Inflammatory Conditions: Prealbumin levels may decrease during inflammatory conditions such as systemic inflammation or severe infections.

  3. Liver Dysfunction: Liver diseases, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, or liver failure, can affect protein synthesis and lead to decreased prealbumin levels.

  4. Kidney Disease: In some cases of kidney disease, decreased prealbumin levels may occur due to protein loss in the urine or impaired synthesis.

How does my health care provider use a Prealbumin test?

Healthcare providers use the results of a prealbumin test in the following ways:

  1. Assessing Nutritional Status: Low prealbumin levels can indicate malnutrition or inadequate protein intake. The results help guide nutritional interventions and monitor the response to treatment.

  2. Monitoring Nutritional Support: In patients receiving nutritional support, such as tube feeding or parenteral nutrition, serial prealbumin measurements can assess the effectiveness of therapy and guide adjustments in nutrient composition or dosage.

  3. Evaluating Response to Treatment: Increasing prealbumin levels over time may indicate a positive response to nutritional interventions or treatment of underlying conditions affecting protein synthesis.

  4. Assessing Liver Function: In conjunction with other liver function tests, prealbumin levels can provide additional information about liver function and help monitor liver disease progression.

It is important to note that the prealbumin test has limitations and should be interpreted alongside other clinical and laboratory findings. It is not a stand-alone diagnostic test but rather a valuable component of a comprehensive assessment of nutritional status and protein synthesis.

What do my Prealbumin test results mean?

Prealbumin levels are varied depending on age and gender.

Prealbumin deficiency can be found in:

  • Malnutrition
  • Illness that is severe or ongoing
  • Inflammation
  • Burns and other forms of trauma
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Infections that are serious
  • Some intestinal problems

Prealbumin results are difficult to interpret because of the ongoing debate about the appropriate use of this test as researchers continue to investigate the role of prealbumin in the body and what changes in its level in the body imply. A single prealbumin result, according to some, is less important than a series of measurements done several days apart, as well as additional clinical assessments and laboratory tests. Measures of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein, may be requested to help interpret the prealbumin results, for example.

Although a high level of prealbumin may be observed in some illnesses, the test is not utilized to diagnose or monitor these conditions.

Most Common Questions About the Prealbumin test:

Understanding the Prealbumin Test

What is the Prealbumin test?

The Prealbumin test is a blood test that measures the level of prealbumin, a protein that is made in the liver and released into the bloodstream. It is often used to assess nutritional status, as levels may fall when a person is not getting or absorbing enough nutrients.

Why is the Prealbumin test done?

The Prealbumin test is typically done to assess a person's nutritional status. It's often used in people who are critically ill, have chronic illnesses like liver disease, or are undergoing dialysis.

What does a 'low' result mean in the Prealbumin test?

A low level of prealbumin may indicate malnutrition, poor absorption of nutrients, or a severe illness. However, interpretation of results should be made in context with other clinical findings and tests.

Interpreting the Prealbumin Test Results

How are results of the Prealbumin test interpreted?

Results of the Prealbumin test are given in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). The reference range varies by gender and age, but generally, a level between 17 to 34 mg/dL is considered normal for adult women, and a level between 21 to 43 mg/dL is considered normal for adult men.. Lower levels may indicate malnutrition or a severe illness.

Can the Prealbumin test diagnose a specific condition?

No, the Prealbumin test is not used to diagnose a specific condition. Instead, it's a marker of nutritional status and can be used to monitor the effectiveness of nutritional support in people who are critically ill or have a chronic illness.

What factors might affect the results of the Prealbumin test?

Factors such as liver disease, kidney disease, inflammation, severe illness, or poor nutritional status can affect prealbumin levels.

Prealbumin Test and Specific Conditions

Can the Prealbumin test be used in individuals with conditions other than malnutrition?

Yes, the Prealbumin test can be used in individuals with liver disease, kidney disease, and in those who are critically ill. It can provide information about the body's protein stores and the effectiveness of nutritional support.

Can the Prealbumin test be used in pregnant women?

Yes, but levels of prealbumin may be slightly lower in pregnancy due to hemodilution (a dilution of the blood). Therefore, the interpretation of results should be made in context with other clinical findings and tests.

What is the significance of the Prealbumin test in people undergoing dialysis?

In people undergoing dialysis, the Prealbumin test can be used to assess nutritional status. Lower levels may suggest poor nutritional status, which can affect the person's overall health and response to treatment.

General Questions About the Test

Can the Prealbumin test be used to monitor the effectiveness of nutritional support?

Yes, the Prealbumin test can be used to monitor the effectiveness of nutritional support in people who are critically ill or have a chronic illness. A rising level of prealbumin often suggests that nutritional support is effective.

How does the Prealbumin test compare to the Albumin test?

Both prealbumin and albumin are proteins made by the liver, and both can be used to assess nutritional status. However, prealbumin levels fall more quickly than albumin levels in response to malnutrition, making it a more sensitive indicator of acute changes in nutritional status.

Are there any limitations to the Prealbumin test?

Yes, prealbumin levels can be affected by factors other than nutritional status, such as liver disease, inflammation, and severe illness. Therefore, interpretation of results should be made in context with other clinical findings and tests.

Understanding Protein Levels and Nutritional Status

Can I increase my Prealbumin levels by eating more protein?

Prealbumin levels reflect the body's overall protein stores, so consuming adequate protein can help to maintain normal levels. However, in people with malnutrition due to illness or poor absorption, simply eating more protein may not be sufficient to increase prealbumin levels.

Are there any medications that can affect Prealbumin levels?

Yes, certain medications, such as oral contraceptives and anabolic steroids, can increase prealbumin levels, while others, such as corticosteroids and inflammatory drugs, can decrease them.

What are the next steps if my Prealbumin levels are low?

Low prealbumin levels may suggest malnutrition or a severe illness. Depending on the cause, your healthcare provider may recommend changes to your diet, nutritional supplements, or further testing to assess your overall health.

Can the Prealbumin test be used to assess the risk of malnutrition in the elderly?

Yes, the Prealbumin test can be used to assess the risk of malnutrition in the elderly. In this population, lower levels may suggest poor nutritional status, which can affect overall health and quality of life.

How often should I repeat the Prealbumin test?

The frequency of testing will depend on many factors, including your overall health, nutritional status, and whether you're receiving treatment for a chronic illness. Your healthcare provider will give you specific recommendations based on your individual situation.

Can the Prealbumin test be used to monitor recovery from a severe illness?

Yes, rising prealbumin levels can suggest recovery from a severe illness, as levels often fall in response to acute illness or stress.

Are there other tests that should be done along with the Prealbumin test?

Yes, the Prealbumin test is often done as part of a comprehensive assessment of nutritional status, which may also include tests such as albumin, total protein, and liver function tests.

Can the Prealbumin test be used to assess nutritional status in people with cancer?

Yes, the Prealbumin test can be used to assess nutritional status in people with cancer. Malnutrition is common in this population due to factors such as decreased appetite, side effects of treatment, and increased nutritional needs.

What can cause false-positive or false-negative results on a Prealbumin test?

False-positive results (high levels of prealbumin without malnutrition) can occur due to factors such as liver disease or the use of certain medications. False-negative results (normal levels of prealbumin with malnutrition) can occur due to factors such as dehydration or edema.

What is the significance of the Prealbumin test in people with liver disease?

In people with liver disease, the Prealbumin test can provide information about the liver's ability to synthesize proteins. Lower levels may suggest severe liver disease.

Can a person with no symptoms still test low in the Prealbumin test?

Yes, it's possible to have low prealbumin levels without any symptoms, especially in people with early-stage chronic illnesses or mild malnutrition.

Is the Prealbumin test used in people with kidney disease?

Yes, the Prealbumin test can be used in people with kidney disease to assess nutritional status. However, interpretation of results should be made in context with other clinical findings and tests.

Is there a connection between the Prealbumin test and weight loss?

Yes, the Prealbumin test can be a useful tool for assessing nutritional status in people with unexplained weight loss. Lower levels may suggest malnutrition, which can be a cause of weight loss.

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

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: Thyroxine Binding Prealbumin, Thyroxine-binding Prealbumin, Transthyretin

Prealbumin

Prealbumin, also called transthyretin, is one of the major proteins in the blood and is produced primarily by the liver. Its functions are to carry thyroxine (the main thyroid hormone) and vitamin A throughout the body. This test measures the level of prealbumin in the blood.
*Process times are an estimate and are not guaranteed. The lab may need additional time due to weather, holidays, confirmation/repeat testing, or equipment maintenance.

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