Pathology Laboratory

What is Hb Electrophoresis?

Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 08:01 am

Hb electrophoresis is an important diagnostic tool used by doctors to determine if there are any blood disorders and identify the different hemoglobin in your bloodstream.

What is hemoglobin electrophoresis?

A hemoglobin electrophoresis test is a blood test used to measure and identify the different hemoglobin in your bloodstream. Hemoglobin is the protein inside red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen to your tissues and organs.

Genetic mutations can cause your body to produce hemoglobin that is formed incorrectly. This abnormal hemoglobin can cause too little oxygen to reach your tissues and organs.

HB electrophoresis

There are hundreds of different hemoglobin;

  • Hemoglobin F: This is also known as fetal hemoglobin. It’s the type found in growing fetuses and newborns. It’s replaced with hemoglobin A soon after birth.
  • Hemoglobin A: This is also known as adult hemoglobin. It’s the most common type of hemoglobin. It’s found in healthy children and adults.
  • Hemoglobin C, D, E, M, and S: These are rare types of abnormal hemoglobin caused by genetic mutations.

A hemoglobin electrophoresis test doesn’t tell you about the amount of hemoglobin in your blood — that’s done in a complete blood count. The levels that a hemoglobin electrophoresis test refers to are the percentages of the different hemoglobin that may be found in your blood. This is different in babies and adults:

New Born60% to 80%
+1 Yr1% to 2%


hemoglobin A95% to 98%
hemoglobin A22% to 3%
hemoglobin F1% to 2%
hemoglobin S0%
hemoglobin C0%

Why has hb electrophoresis done?

Your doctor may have you do a hemoglobin electrophoresis test if you’re showing symptoms of anaemia. The test will help them find any abnormal types of hemoglobin in your blood. These could be a sign of disorders, including:

People who have a family history of inherited anaemias such as thalassemia or sickle cell anaemia may choose to screen for these genetic disorders before having children. Hemoglobin electrophoresis will show if there are any abnormal types of hemoglobin caused by genetic disorders. Newborns are also routinely screened for these genetic hemoglobin disorders. Your doctor may also want to test your child if you have a family history of abnormal hemoglobin or they have anaemia that’s not caused by an iron deficiency.

Hb electrophoresis test

Symptoms associated and screened are:

  • Slowed growth and delayed puberty
  • Bone problems
  • Poor appetite
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice (a yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes)
  • An Enlarged Heart
  • Bone problems (especially bones in the face)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Coldness in the hands and feet
  • Paler than normal skin or mucous membranes (the tissue that lines your nose, mouth, and other organs and body cavities)

Types of electrophoresis tests

The various electrophoresis tests are as follows;

  • Routine Electrophoresis
  • High-Resolution Electrophoresis
  • Polyacrylamide gel Electrophoresis
  • Capillary Electrophoresis
  • Isoelectric Focusing
  • Immunochemical Electrophoresis
  • Two-dimensional Electrophoresis
  • Pulse field Electrophoresis

What is the protein electrophoresis test?

Serum protein electrophoresis is a laboratory technique that’s used to determine the levels of some types of proteins in a blood sample. There are several reasons a doctor may order this test. Serum protein electrophoresis is used to help diagnose and monitor a variety of different diseases or disorders that have abnormal proteins or protein levels. Electrophoresis is not usually used by itself to diagnose a disease. Instead, it’s used along with other laboratory tests to provide more information to help with diagnosis.

The five groups of proteins usually considered during a Serum protein electrophoresis test are:

  • Albumin: This protein transports substances and plays a role in tissue growth and repair.
  • Alpha-1 globulins: The major alpha-1 globulin is called alpha-1-antitrypsin, which is produced by the lungs and liver and increases with inflammatory diseases.
  • Alpha-2 globulins: This class of protein has many functions in the body and is involved in inflammation.
  • Beta globulins: These proteins move substances, support immunity, and increase in number in multiple myeloma and conditions like high cholesterol and atherosclerosis.
  • Gamma globulins: These support the immune system and are increased in multiple myeloma, as well as some autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Electrophoresis is a lab technique used to separate groups of proteins in blood serum. This allows them to be measured and analyzed individually. It involves exposing serum placed in a special type of gel to an electric current. This causes the different proteins to move and group together. The proteins create separate bands on the gel, which are then analyzed by the laboratory.

Your doctor may recommend protein electrophoresis if you are experiencing symptoms of a condition affecting the proteins in your blood serum. These symptoms could include:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • bone pain or frequent fractures
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • excessive thirst
  • back pain

Some conditions that could cause these symptoms are:

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