Blood contains various proteins with varied, important functions. Those proteins can be divided into two main groups: albumin and globulin.
Albumin and globulin are measured together as total protein in the blood.
Albumin is the most prevalent protein in the blood, it’s formed within the liver and makes up approximately 60% of total protein. Albumin carries insoluble substances like fatty acids and bilirubin. It also serves to hold water within the blood vessels, a process called oncotic pressure. Albumin is one specific protein, whereas globulin can be divided into 4 different fractions:
- Alpha-1 Globulin (more info here)
- Alpha-2 Globulin (more info here)
They differ slightly in structure but have the same functions in the body: carrying hormones, cholesterol, and copper through the bloodstream and acting as an enzyme for certain chemical reactions in the body. They also work to help/prevent the actions of other enzymes, such as those that cause the blood to clump.
- Beta Globulin (more info here)
There are beta-1 and beta-2 globulins. They are also produced in the liver and have a similar structure to the alpha globulins. They carry lipids, hormones, and cholesterol through the bloodstream and also assist immune cells in mounting an immune response to invading bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
- Gamma Globulin (more info here)
They are blood proteins produced by lymphocytes and plasma cells of the immune system when an immune response is needed. Almost all gamma globulins are known as immunoglobulins (=antibodies). There are three main types of immunoglobulins, IgM, IgG, and IgA.