High blood protein (hyperproteinemia) is an increase in the concentration of protein in the bloodstream. High blood protein is not a specific disease or condition in itself, but it might indicate you have a disease.
High blood protein rarely causes signs or symptoms on its own. But sometimes it is uncovered while you're having blood tests done as part of an evaluation for some other problem or symptom.
Possible causes of high blood protein include:
- Amyloidosis (buildup of abnormal proteins in your organs)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
- Multiple myeloma
A high-protein diet doesn't cause high blood protein.
High blood protein is not a specific disease or condition in itself. It's usually a laboratory finding uncovered during the evaluation of a particular condition or symptom. For instance, although high blood protein is found in people who are dehydrated, the real problem is that the blood plasma is actually more concentrated.
Certain proteins in the blood may be elevated as your body fights an infection or some other inflammation. People with certain bone marrow diseases, such as multiple myeloma, may have high blood protein levels before they show any other symptoms.
The role of proteins
Proteins are large, complicated molecules that are vital to the function of all cells and tissues. They are made in many places throughout your body and circulate in the blood.
Proteins take a variety of forms — such as albumin, antibodies and enzymes — and have many different functions, including:
- Helping you fight disease
- Regulating body functions
- Building muscles
- Transporting drugs and other substances throughout the body
When to see a doctor
If your doctor discovers high blood protein during an evaluation, he or she may recommend additional tests to determine if there is an underlying problem.
A total protein test can determine whether you have high blood protein. Other more-specific tests, including serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP), can help determine the exact source, such as liver or bone marrow, as well as the specific protein type involved in your high blood protein levels. Your doctor may order an SPEP if he or she suspects you have a bone marrow disease.