Globulins are an essential group of proteins, present in the blood, that make countless contributions to how the body functions in its normal day to day life, it is responsible for a variety of physiological processes, and are produced in the liver. Globulins play a crucial role in maintain the body’s immune system, they help transport hormones and nutrients, and aid in the prevention of blood clots.
Types of Globulin
There are three major distinct types of Globulins present in the body, all having their own unique structure, along with performing different functions.
Alpha Globulins are produced in the liver, primarily involved in the transport of hormones, lipids, and metal ions, this form of globulin helps to prevent blood clots. Examples of Alpha Globulins include Alpha-1 antitrypsin, Alpha-fetoprotein, and ceruloplasmin.
Beta Globulins, which are similarly produced in the liver, play an important role in transporting lipids and metal ion around the body, this type of globulin is present in the immune system, and also helps transport antibodies. Examples of Beta Globulins include Transferrin, Haptoglobin, and beta-2 microglobulin.
Gamma Globulins are alternatively known as immunoglobulins, they are produced by plasma cells in the immune system and help to fight infections by binding to antigens and neutralizing them. Divided into five classes, Gamma Globulins include IgG, IgM, IgA, IgD, and IgE.
What causes Abnormal Globulin Levels?
Abnormal globulin levels can be caused by a wide range of health conditions, a regular cause would be infections, and particularly chronic infections, as this increases the amount of Gamma Globulins in the blood, due to the immune system producing more immunoglobulins in an attempt to fight off infection.
Furthermore, autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause an increase in globulin levels, this occurs because the immune system attacks the healthy tissues in body, causing inflammation, and therefore an increase in immunoglobulin production as a response.
Liver disease also contributes to abnormal Globulin levels, because the liver is responsible for producing the majority of globulins required by the body, liver disease can cause decreased levels, particularly for the Alpha-1 antitrypsin Globulin.
Lastly, Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer, will cause an increase of Gamma Globulins in the blood, due to the cancer cells producing abnormal amounts of immunoglobulins.
Treating Abnormal Globulin Levels
Treatment will vary as it depends on the root cause of abnormal globulin levels, however, the most common treatment methods used are:
Antibiotics, which are typically the best treatment, and most recommended for bacterial infections that cause abnormal globulin levels, furthermore, antiviral medications can also be prescribed, if an infection is the main cause of raised levels, treating it will likely normalize them.
Any form of medication that suppresses the response of the immune system are prescribed to those with autoimmune diseases, which helps in reducing inflammation and can decrease the production of immunoglobulins.
As always changes in lifestyle, such as a healthy diet and more exercise, can be recommended depending on the severity of the abnormality, and it is usually the best way to keep bilirubin levels, and general health in a good condition.
An aggressive form of treatment is normally used in cases with Multiple Myeloma, options can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant, these treatments help kill cancer cells and reduce the production of abnormal immunoglobulins.