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Haptoglobin Blood Test

Last updated Sept. 10, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

The Haptoglobin Blood Test is a test that assesses haptoglobin levels in blood. It is used to detect excessive destruction of red blood cells.

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

  • Hapto Blood Test
  • Hp Blood Test
  • HPT Blood Test

What is Haptoglobin Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Haptoglobin is a blood protein that sequesters (segregates or isolates) free hemoglobin in blood, before it can cause damage. Decreased levels of haptoglobin often indicate red blood cell destruction
  • Hemoglobin is the oxygen-binding protein in red blood cells (RBCs). It is essential to the RBCs and plays the role of distributing oxygen throughout the body - a role that is enabled by the iron it contains
  • For hemoglobin to bind oxygen, its iron must be oxidized. This property of iron to easily oxidize makes iron extremely useful to oxygen transport
  • However, iron’s reactivity also makes it (and thus hemoglobin too) highly toxic, if left to freely float in blood. This occurs when RBCs rupture as a result of age, infection, or a reaction with the antibodies of an opposing blood group/type
  • To combat this issue, haptoglobin sequesters freed hemoglobin, before it can cause any damage. However, if the rate of RBC destruction is faster than the rate of haptoglobin production by the liver, the haptoglobin levels in the blood may decrease
  • The Haptoglobin Blood Test is a test that assesses haptoglobin levels in blood. It is used to detect excessive destruction of red blood cells

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Haptoglobin Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Haptoglobin Blood Test:

  • Complications following a blood transfusion
  • Identifying the cause of low RBC levels
  • Fatigue
  • Pale appearance
  • Dizziness, loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heart rate

How is the Specimen Collected for Haptoglobin Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Haptoglobin Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of a needle into an arm vein.

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

What is the Significance of the Haptoglobin Blood Test Result?

The significance of the Haptoglobin Blood Test is explained:

Decreased haptoglobin levels may indicate:

  • Hemolysis that is caused by:
    • Autoimmune disease
    • Mechanical destruction (e.g., artificial heart valves, contact sports)
    • Drug reaction
    • Transfusion reaction
    • Defective RBCs
  • Liver disease or cirrhosis
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Increased haptoglobin levels may indicate:

  • Gallbladder obstruction
  • Cancer
  • Heart attack (acute myocardial infarction)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Arthritis
  • Pyelonephritis

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:

  • The Haptoglobin Blood Test is often performed alongside a reticulocyte count blood test. This combination helps determine, if the cause of anemia is red blood cell destruction or bone marrow disorder

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, 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.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 12, 2014
Last updated: Sept. 10, 2018