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Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test

Last updated June 11, 2019

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test helps assess the relative levels and distributions of different types of lipoproteins in circulation.

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

  • Lipoproteins Blood Test

What is Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Lipoproteins are fats bound to proteins. Their role is to carry cholesterol and fats through blood. Lipoproteins are necessary because cholesterol and fats are not soluble in blood and would otherwise clump and clog the blood vessels
  • Lipoproteins contain apolipoproteins (“apo-“ means detached) as part of their structure. Apolipoproteins are required for transport and migration outside the blood vessel
  • The type of apolipoprotein contained by a lipoprotein determines where the lipoprotein will go. This is because cells at the destination recognize lipoproteins by the apolipoproteins they contain
  • There are different kinds of lipoproteins, depending on the ratio of protein to fat:
    • Very-low density lipoproteins (VLDL) and chylomicrons contain high amounts of fat per protein
    • High-density lipoproteins (HDL) contain less fat per protein. They transport fat and cholesterol from the body back to the liver for metabolism. Thus, they are called “good”
    • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) transport fat and cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Thus, they are called “bad”
  • The Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test helps assess the relative levels and distributions of different types of lipoproteins in circulation. It is used to estimate the risk for cardiovascular disease and to provide a measure of cardiovascular health

Electrophoresis separates charged particles in a mixture. With protein electrophoresis (PFE), the particles are proteins and the mixture is blood or urine.

  • Separation is accomplished by subjecting the mixture to an electric current and observing the effects of the force experienced by the particles
  • Particles of differing molecular characteristics, such as size and shape, experience different electrical forces. Thus, they are propelled at different speeds through the medium. This means that, after a period of time, they end up in different places
  • Conversely, identical particles are affected equally by an electric current. Thus, they travel the same distance in a given time and end up in the same place. This is observed as a set of “bands” during visualization

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test:

  • Evaluating the risk for cardiovascular disease, which may be marked by:
    • Chest pain or discomfort
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Jaw pain
    • Family history of cardiovascular disease
  • Monitoring therapy for cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol levels

How is the Specimen Collected for Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining a 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 Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test Result?

The significance of the Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test is explained.

  • An overall high value (higher than 800 mg/dL) for the test may indicate cardiovascular conditions such as:
    • Hyperlipoproteinemia
    • Acute myocardial infarction (heart attack)
    • Eclampsia
  • The test results (high value) may also indicate other conditions such as:
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Nephrotic syndrome
    • Laennec’s cirrhosis
    • Multiple myeloma
    • Diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat
  • An overall low value (less than 400 mg/dL) for the test may indicate the following conditions:
    • Tangier disease
    • Chronic obstructive lung 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 Lipoprotein Electrophoresis Blood Test. These include stress, pregnancy, and individual genetic predispositions to certain enzyme deficiencies
  • The test is one of the several methods used to analyze different types of lipoproteins. The other methods include ultracentrifugation and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)

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.

The following DoveMed website link is a useful resource for additional information:


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


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 4, 2016
Last updated: June 11, 2019