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What Are the Causes of Low Plasma Protein?

Updated July 19, 2017

Conditions including kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, dietary malnutrition and malnutrition caused by infectious diseases often cause low plasma protein levels. Low plasma protein, also called hypoproteinemia, can greatly contribute to adverse outcomes of these conditions.

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Major Causes

Some diseases such as kidney disease manifest from other adverse health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse says that, because these conditions can result in kidney damage and the kidneys normally filter proteins into the blood, malfunctioning kidneys play a large role in many instances of hypoproteinemia.

Other Causes

According to National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, severe malnutrition, including low protein intake and nutrition loss because of infectious diseases such as Dengue and malaria, also causes low plasma protein. Autoimmune disorders can also cause hypoproteinemia because of developing blood cell irregularities that ultimately affect major organs such as the kidneys.

Importance of Protein

Vital in the blood for functions such as fluid regulation and balance, proteins also act as the building blocks for muscle, hair, bone, skin, nails and body repairs. Most major body organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys begin to malfunction without enough protein present in the blood.


Only a laboratory test can verify low plasma protein levels in the blood, but common symptoms include foamy urine or blood in the urine as well as oedema. Any disease that causes kidney damage may lead to hypoproteinemia.


According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, treatment of this condition largely depends on the treatment for the actual disease causing low plasma protein. Severe cases could require dialysis or major organ transplants if the cause of hypoproteinemia is left untreated.

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About the Author

Clementina Altamirano

Clementina Altamirano has written professionally since 1999, been published in "Hispanic Magazine" and has extensive experience with health, food and education communications. She enjoys conveying useful information about a wide variety of topics through clear, concise and helpful articles. Altamirano holds a degree in English from Texas A&M International University.

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