Albumin is a carrier protein of the human body. It is created in the liver and is used to transport lipids and fat soluble molecules through the water-based environment of the blood. Without this molecule, many vitamins and essential fats would never reach their intended destination cells. Albumin’s role in disease mostly involves the indications of some kinds of heart disease and a predisposition for a stroke. In addition to this, there is the occurrence of a condition called albuminuria. This is an abnormal state in which albumin is excreted in the urine. This normally does not happen because the cells of the kidneys called podocytes act like a sieve that only allow very simple molecules to pass and ensure that red blood cells and bigger molecules like albumin stay in the blood stream. Therefore, if albuminuria occurs, it is a sign of kidney failure. However, this is not absolute and in some situations albuminuria can occur even without overt indications of kidney disease.
One of these conditions is albuminuria during pregnancy. There are two possibilities here. Albumin levels in the serum can suddenly drop during pregnancy and this is a condition caused by hemodilution. This simply means that the increased amount of blood in the body of a pregnant woman causes the levels of albumin to drop. This condition is closely monitored as it should resolve itself. In the other case, there can suddenly be elevated levels of albumin that is excreted in the urine. This is a dangerous sign because it is an indication of a premature delivery on its way.
In other situations, anything that doesn’t fall in the reference range of 3.5 – 5.5 units per liter of blood is a sign of hypoalbuminemia or hyperalbuminemia. Albuminuria is a condition that is especially useful in diabetics. This is a disease that slowly kills off the cells of the body one by one with the acidosis that it causes. Renal function is one of the first casualties that signal the onset of the more serious side of this disease. The podocytes cells that are destroyed by diabetes then start to slowly leak out albumin but are unable to excrete creatinine – a metabolic by product from the muscles. A ratio called the creatinine-albumin ratio is then used to calculate the intensity of the problem. Usually, dialysis is one of the only possibilities left if the kidneys have been destroyed.