What is a Prealbumin or Transthyretin Test?
The names prealbumin and transthyretin are interchangeable. The test is used to measure the amount of available protein in the body. Critical or chronic illness can cause a decrease in consumed or metabolized dietary protein leading to protein malnutrition. The body will start to breakdown fat, protein and muscle in an attempt to make up for the lack of dietary protein.
The prealbumin test can be used as a diagnostic tool for disease or illness, but it is more often used as part of the surgical blood screening completed in advance of surgery. Nutrition tends to wane during surgical recovery, so doctors use the prealbumin levels as a means of determining pre-surgery health. If prealbumin levels are low before surgery it could cause increased risk of complications like infection or pneumonia. Doctors can instruct patients on the best means of increasing dietary protein to potentially improve the healing process.
Normal Value Range
- Negative Pregnancy Adult: 17 to 34 mg/dL or 170 to 340 mg/L
- Pregnancy Trimester One: 8.5 to 32.9 mg/dL or 85 to 329 mg/L
- Pregnancy Trimester Two: 16.7 to 30.3 mg/dL or 167 to 303 mg/L
- Pregnancy Trimester Three: 8.8 to 28 mg/dL or 88 to 280 mg/L
Low prealbumin results could be an indicator of malnutrition. Consuming too little dietary protein is the main cause of reduced albumin levels. Other conditions that may cause reduced albumin concentration include inflammation, kidney failure, overactive adrenal gland or liver disease.