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Clin Chim Acta. 2004 Aug 16;346(2):107-18.

Alpha 1-microglobulin: clinical laboratory aspects and applications.

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Department of Clinical Chemistry, University Hospital Ghent-2P8, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.



Urinary microproteins are becoming increasingly important in clinical diagnostics. They can contribute in the non-invasive early detection of renal abnormalities and the differentiation of various nephrological and urological pathologies. Alpha 1-microglobulin (A1M) is an immunomodulatory protein with a broad spectrum of possible clinical applications and seems a promising marker for evaluation of tubular function.


We performed a systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature (until end of November 2003) on A1M with emphasis on clinical diagnostic utility and laboratory aspects.


A1M is a 27-kDa glycoprotein, present in various body fluids, with unknown exact biological function. The protein acts as a mediator of bacterial adhesion to polymer surfaces and is involved in inhibiting renal lithogenesis. Because A1M is not an acute phase protein, is stable in a broad range of physiological conditions and sensitive immunoassays have been developed, its measurement can be used for clinical purposes. Unfortunately, international standardisation is still lacking. Altered plasma/serum levels are usually due to impaired liver or kidney functions but are also observed in clinical conditions such as HIV and mood disorders. Urinary A1M provides a non-invasive, inexpensive diagnostic alternative for the diagnosis and monitoring of urinary tract disorders (early detection of tubular disorders such as heavy metal intoxications, diabetic nephropathy, urinary outflow disorders and pyelonephritis).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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