Protein Electrophoresis, Serum

The Protein Electrophoresis, Serum test contains 1 test with 11 biomarkers.

Description: A Protein Electrophoresis Serum test is a blood test that checks for abnormal and defective proteins in your blood’s serum.

Also Known As: SPEP Test, Protein Total and Electrophoresis Test, Protein ELP Test, SPE Test, Serum Protein Electrophoresis Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is a Protein Electrophoresis test ordered?

In order to further investigate anomalous results from other laboratory tests or to assess a patient's symptoms, protein electrophoresis may be requested. Electrophoresis may be prescribed periodically after a disease or illness has been diagnosed to track its progression and the efficacy of treatment.

One may request serum electrophoresis:

  • As a follow-up to aberrant results on other laboratory tests, such as elevated urine protein levels, elevated calcium levels, low white- or red-blood-cell counts, total protein and/or albumin levels,
  • when symptoms point to an autoimmune illness, an acute or ongoing infection, a kidney or liver disorder, or a condition that causes protein loss,
  • Look for the presence of a distinctive band in the beta or gamma region when a medical professional is looking into symptoms that point to multiple myeloma, such as bone pain, anemia, fatigue, unexplained fractures, or recurrent infections; if a sharp band is seen, its identity as a monoclonal immunoglobulin is typically confirmed by immunofixation electrophoresis.
  • to observe the progression of multiple myeloma treatment to see if the monoclonal band shrinks or vanishes entirely.

What does a Protein Electrophoresis test check for?

All cells and organs depend heavily on proteins as their building blocks. They make up the structural components of the majority of organs and the hormones and enzymes that control bodily processes. The proteins found in bodily fluids perform a wide range of various tasks, including the transportation of nutrients, the elimination of toxins, the regulation of metabolic processes, and the defense against foreign invaders. These proteins can be divided via a process called protein electrophoresis depending on their size and electrical charge.

When bodily fluid proteins are separated by electrophoresis, a distinctive pattern of bands with varying widths and intensities forms, representing the protein combination present. There are five components of this pattern: albumin, alpha 1, alpha 2, beta, and gamma. The beta fraction may occasionally be further split into beta 1 and beta 2.

About 60% of the blood's protein is made up of albumin, which is produced by the liver. Proteins other than albumin are referred to collectively as "globulins." The majority of globulins are likewise made in the liver, with the exception of immunoglobulins and a few complement proteins.

Lab tests often ordered with a Protein Electrophoresis test:

  • Albumin
  • Urine Protein
  • Serum Free Light Chains
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Allpha-1 Antitrypsin
  • Cryoglobulins

Conditions where a Protein Electrophoresis test is recommended:

  • Multiple Myeloma
  • Kidney Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Malnutrition
  • Proteinuria

How does my health care provider use a Protein Electrophoresis test?

When distinct protein groups are present in blood or other body fluids in unusually high or low numbers, protein electrophoresis is used to detect the presence of abnormal proteins, the absence of normal proteins, and the presence or absence of defective proteins.

The body uses proteins for a variety of functions, such as nutrient delivery, toxin elimination, metabolic regulation, and defense against foreign invaders.

Proteins are divided by protein electrophoresis according to their size and electrical charge. This represents the mix of proteins present in the bodily fluid under evaluation and creates a distinctive pattern of bands on a test medium that are varied widths and intensities. Five parts of the pattern are identified: albumin, alpha 1, alpha 2, beta, and gamma. The beta fraction may occasionally be further split into beta 1 and beta 2.

What do my Protein Electrophoresis test results mean?

A health professional can roughly determine the amount of each protein fraction and whether any aberrant proteins are present using protein electrophoresis assays. Immunofixation electrophoresis is useful for determining whether a specific kind of immunoglobulin is present. An explanation of the findings could be included in the lab report.

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: Protein Electrophoresis Serum, SPEP

Abnormal Protein Band 1

Abnormal Protein Band 2

Abnormal Protein Band 3


Albumin is a protein made by the liver. A serum albumin test measures the amount of this protein in the clear liquid portion of the blood.





Gamma Globulins


Protein, Total

The total protein is the total amount of two classes of proteins, albumin and globulin that are found in the fluid portion of your blood. Proteins are important parts of all cells and tissues. Your albumin helps prevent fluid from leaking out of blood vessels and your globulins are an important part of your immune system.
*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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