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Definition of Albumin
Albumin is among the numerous plasma proteins the liver produces and is also available as a blood product for transfusion. Blood banks obtain it by separating it, using a cell separator, from donated whole blood or plasma.
Albumin molecules are larger than the molecules it transports, allowing those substances, such as electrolytes and hormones, to pass through the walls of the blood vessels while the albumin molecules remain within the blood vessels.
The blood of a healthy adult contains 3.5 to 5.0 grams per deciliter (g/dL) of albumin, which makes up about 2 percent of the blood’s total volume. A low serum level (hypoalbuminemia, decreased concentration in the blood) often indicates liver disease such as cirrhosis or kidney disease such as glomerulonephritis.
Hypoalbuminemia also occurs with serious burns. An elevated level (hyperalbuminemia, increased concentration of albumin in the blood) occurs less commonly and often signals extended dehydration or diabetes insipidus, a disorder of the adrenal glands.