How to Perform a Gamma Globulin Test?

Submitted on March 27, 2012

A gamma globulin test is used to test the amount of immunoglobins in the blood. Immunoglobins are also called immune gamma globulins. Immunoglobins are antibodies that are produced by the body in response to foreign substances such as bacteria, viruses, and cancerous cells.

Kinds of Antibodies Produced By The Body

There are 5 different kinds of antibodies produced by the body, namely, IgA, IgG, IgM, IgE, and IgD. Each of these antibodies helps in protecting the body against specific infections and diseases. Low antibody levels can make the body susceptible to diseases.

  • IgA antibodies help in protecting the parts of the body that are exposed to the environment. They are found in the nose, ears, eyes, digestive tract, and vagina.
  • IgG antibodies help in fighting bacterial and viral infections. These antibodies are found in body fluids.
  • IgM antibodies are found in the blood and lymph fluids. They are produced by the body in response to an infection and help the immune system to fight an infection.
  • IgE antibodies help in fighting foreign substances such as pollen and spores. They are found in the lungs, skin, and mucous membranes.
  • IgD antibodies are found in tissues that line the chest and the belly. It is found in a very small percentage, and the exact function of this antibody is yet to be understood well.

Gamma globulin a protein in the blood plasma that keeps infections and disease at bay, acting in tandem with our antibodies to keep us healthy. Thus maintaining the right level of gamma globulin levels is necessary for healthy living. We succumb to infections when our immune system is affected. A gamma globulin blood test in is conducted to test for presence of antibodies (also called immuno globins or immuno gamma globins), indicating the presence of viruses, bacteria, or cancer causing cells. A gamma globulin test is a diagnostic procedure that can help doctors identify the problem so as to initiate treatment. It should be noted that this test is performed only in the case of serious illnesses.

Test Results

A gamma globulin blood or lab test is performed to determine gamma globulin level by drawing blood from the patient's vein. A gamma globulin test chart shows the following normal gamma globulin test ranges.

  • IgA: 85-385 mg/DI. Higher values indicate chronic hepatitis, liver disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer of plasma cells. Lower values indicate enteropathy, leukemia, and kidney problems.
  • IgG: 565-1765 mg/DI. Higher values indicate chronic hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, and AIDS. Lower values indicate kidney damage, cancer of lymphocytes, and leukemia.
  • IgM: 55-37.5 mg/DI. Higher values indicate kidney damage, parasitic infections, viral hepatitis, cancer of the lymph cells, and mononucleosis. Lower values indicate genetic immune disorders, multiple myeloma, and leukemia.
  • IgD: 8 mg/DI or below.
  • IgE: 4.2-592 mg/DI. Higher values indicate dermatitis (atopic), parasitic infections, and asthma. Lower values indicate muscles disease.

It is necessary to have the gamma globulin test results interpreted by the doctor, in order to gain proper knowledge about your condition. After a gamma globulin test there can be certain complications. Symptoms of gamma globulin complications include fainting or weakness, bleeding at the site of insertion, hematoma or collection of blood at the site under the skin, and in rare cases infection.

Gamma globulin taken from various people is used in combinations to combat and treat infections, especially beneficial to patients whose immune systems are weak. Antibodies are taken from people whose antibodies have overcome infections like hepatitis, chicken pox, and measles, and are injected into people so as to prevent occurrence of such diseases.

Gamma Globulin Levels/Range

Globulin and albumin are serum proteins (in blood plasma) produced by the immune system or the liver. The ratio of globulin in the blood is 2-3 g/dl. Globins are further classified into alpha 1 globulins, alpha 2 globulins, beta globulins, and gamma globulins. These components can be separated and calibrated in the lab. The ratio of proteins in both albumin and globulins is very important in diagnosing infection.

Protein content may rise because of

  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Tb, respiratory problems
  • Leukemia
  • Dehydration
  • Alcoholism
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Protein content may fall because of

  • Malnutrition
  • Digestive problems
  • Loss of proteins due to severe burns and diarrhea
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Liver and kidney malfunctions.

The albumin-globulin (A/G) ratio is high in

  • High carbohydrate-protein intake
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Falling globulin levels
  • High level of cortisone due to overproduction, medication, or tumor.
  • How to Perform Gamma Globulin Test?

    The gamma globulin test is a blood test. There is no preparation required for this test. To perform this test, a sample of the blood is collected from the vein in the upper arm. The health care professional ties a band around the upper arm to restrict the flow of blood and then injects a vein in the arm to collect the sample. After collection of the sample, the area being pricked is pressed with a cotton swab dipped in an antiseptic spirit.

    The results of an immunoglobin test are available in a few days and normal values are as follows:

    • IgA: 85 - 385 mg/Dl
    • IgG: 565 - 1765 mg/Dl
    • IgM: 55 - 375 mg/Dl
    • IgD: 8 mg/Dl or lesser
    • IgE: 4.2 - 592 mg/Dl

    Reading Gamma Globulin Test Values

    High and low values are not normal and can be an indication of an underlying condition. High IgA values may be an indication of multiple myeloma, liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE. Low IgA values may be an indication of kidney damage, certain types of leukemia, and enteropathy.

    High IgG values may be an indication of AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and chronic hepatitis. Low IgG values may be an indication of macroglobulinemia, nephrotic syndrome, and certain types of leukemia.

    High IgM values may be an indication of macroglobulinemia, viral hepatitis, kidney damage, mononucleosis, parasite infections, and kidney damage. Low IgM values may be an indication of multiple myeloma, some types of leukemia, and inherited immune diseases.

    High IgE values may be an indication of asthma, parasite infections, and atopic dermatitis. While low IgE values are an indication of a disease called ataxia-telangiectasia. This is a rare disease, which affects muscle movement.

    Gamma Globulin Therapy

    It has been proven that gamma globulin extracted from multiple individuals can be used to treat infections. This method is called as the gamma globulin therapy. The procedure involves intravenous injection of gamma globulin into a vein or a muscle.

    Cost of The Test

    Our immune system is what keeps us healthy. Any damage to this system will prove costly in terms of time, physical, and mental distress and money. A series of blood work, frequent visits to the health center for periodic check-ups, injections, and intravenous administrations of gamma globulin are very expensive. It is always good to take a brief from your doctor on the gamma globulin test prices as also check with your insurance provider if gamma globulin testing is covered.