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Acid Phosphatase Blood Test

Last updated May 11, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Acid Phosphatase Blood Test determines the levels of acid phosphatase in blood. It is used to detect prostate cancer and other organ abnormalities involving acid phosphatase.

What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Glycerophosphatase Blood Test
  • Prostatic Acid Phosphatase Blood Test
  • Tartrate-Resistant Acid Phosphatase Blood Test

What is the Acid Phosphatase Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Acid phosphatase is an enzyme that operates under acidic conditions. It removes a chemical group, called a phosphate, from its parent molecule
  • Acid phosphatase is found in structures called lysosomes that are present in immune cells. Lysosomes destroy foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses, when they have been ingested by the immune cell
  • Immune cells ingest pathogens through a process called phagocytosis. This process involves first identifying the chemical markers on the outside of the pathogenic cell; then, the immune cell reaches out, envelops the pathogen, and brings it inside
  • The phagocytosed pathogen resides in a compartment called an endosome. Molecular pumps on the outside of the endosome actively make the environment inside the endosome acidic
  • A lysosome containing acid phosphatase and other cellular degradation machinery then fuses with the pathogen-containing endosome. The resulting fusion structure is called a phagolysosome
  • Acid phosphatase is activated by the acidic environment and begins digesting the pathogen. Acid phosphatase is also present in body fluids. Sperm is the body fluid richest in acid phosphatase. In body fluids, acid phosphatase helps control microbial populations to prevent infection
  • The Acid Phosphatase Blood Test determines the levels of acid phosphatase in blood. It is used to detect prostate cancer and other organ abnormalities involving acid phosphatase

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Acid Phosphatase Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Acid Phosphatase Blood Test:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Fatigue

How is the Specimen Collected for the Acid Phosphatase Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Acid Phosphatase Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Acid Phosphatase Blood Test Result?

An elevated Acid Phosphatase Blood Test value may indicate:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia, infection, or infarct
  • Gaucher’s disease
  • Niemann-Pick disease

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Certain factors may interfere with the results of the Acid Phosphatase Blood Test. These include genetic conditions that cause abnormalities in the levels or functioning of acid phosphatase enzyme

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 31, 2015
Last updated: May 11, 2019