Protein Electrophoresis — Urine


The urine protein electrophoresis (UPEP) test is used to estimate how much of certain proteins are in the urine.

Alternative Names

Urine protein electrophoresis; UPEP; Multiple myeloma - UPEP; Waldenström macroglobulinemia - UPEP; Amyloidosis - UPEP

How the Test is Performed

A clean-catch urine sample is needed. The clean-catch method is used to prevent germs from the penis or vagina from getting into a urine sample. To collect your urine, the health care provider may give you a special clean-catch kit that contains a cleansing solution and sterile wipes. Follow the instructions exactly.

After you provide a urine sample, it is sent to the laboratory. There, the laboratory specialist will place the urine sample on special paper and apply an electric current. The proteins move and form visible bands. These reveal the general amounts of each protein.

How to Prepare for the Test

Your provider may tell you to stop taking certain medicines that could interfere with the test. Medicines that can affect test results include:

  • Chlorpromazine
  • Corticosteroids
  • Isoniazid
  • Neomycin
  • Phenacemide
  • Salicylates
  • Sulfonamides
  • Tolbutamide

Do not stop taking any medicine without first talking to your provider.

How the Test will Feel

This test involves only normal urination. There is no discomfort.

Why the Test is Performed

Normally there is no protein, or only a small amount of protein in the urine. An abnormally high amount of protein in the urine can be a sign of many different disorders.

UPEP may be recommended to help determine the cause of protein in the urine. Or it may be done as a screening test to measure the various amounts of different types of proteins in urine. UPEP detects 2 types of protein: albumin and globulins.

Normal Results

No significant amount of globulins are found in the urine. Urine albumin is less than 5 mg/dL.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different specimens. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

If the urine sample has a significant amount of globulins or higher than normal level of albumin, it may mean any of the following:

  • Acute inflammation
  • Abnormal protein buildup in tissues and organs (amyloidosis)
  • Decreased kidney function
  • Kidney disease due to diabetes (diabetic nephropathy)
  • Kidney failure
  • A type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma
  • Group of symptoms that include protein in the urine, low protein level in the blood, swelling (nephrotic syndrome)
  • Acute urinary tract infection


There are no risks with this test.


Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Protein electrophoresis - urine. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:920-923.

McPherson RA. Specific proteins. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 19.

Review Date: 5/20/2016

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