Calculated globulin as a screening tool for hypogammaglobulinaemia or paraproteins in hospitalized patients

Teng Hoo, Ee Mun Lim, Mina John, Lloyd D’Orsogna, Andrew McLean-Tooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Calculated globulin fraction is derived from the liver function tests by subtracting albumin from the total protein. Since immunoglobulins comprise the largest component of the serum globulin concentration, increased or decreased calculated globulins and may identify patients with hypogammaglobulinaemia or hypergammaglobulinaemia, respectively. Methods: A retrospective study of laboratory data over 2.5 years from inpatients at three tertiary hospitals was performed. Patients with paired calculated globulins and immunoglobulin results were identified and clinical details reviewed. The results of serum electrophoresis testing were also assessed where available. Results: A total of 4035 patients had paired laboratory data available. A calculated globulin ≤20 g/L (<2nd percentile) had a low sensitivity (5.8%) but good positive predictive value (82.5%) for hypogammaglobulinaemia (IgG ≤5.7 g/L), with a positive predictive value of 37.5% for severe hypogammaglobulinaemia (IgG ≤3 g/L). Paraproteins were identified in 123/291 (42.3%) of patients with increased calculated globulins (≥42 g/L) who also had a serum electrophoresis performed. Significantly elevated calculated globulin ≥50 g/L (>4th percentile) were seen in patients with either liver disease (37%), haematological malignancy (36%), autoimmune disease (13%) or infections (9%). Conclusions: Calculated globulin is an inexpensive and easily available test that assists in the identification of hypogammaglobulinaemia or hypergammaglobulinaemia which may prompt further investigation and reduce diagnostic delays.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Clinical Biochemistry
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Feb 2021

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