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Albumin vs. Prealbumin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 17, 2023
Albumin is a major protein in blood plasma, important for maintaining osmotic pressure, while prealbumin is a smaller protein, used as a marker for nutritional status and inflammation.

Key Differences

Albumin, a key protein in human blood plasma, plays a crucial role in maintaining osmotic pressure and transporting substances. Prealbumin, also known as transthyretin, is a smaller, less abundant protein, often used as an indicator of nutritional status.
While albumin is produced in the liver and is the most abundant plasma protein, prealbumin is synthesized both in the liver and the choroid plexus in the brain. Prealbumin has a shorter half-life compared to albumin, reflecting more immediate changes in protein status.
Albumin levels are used to assess liver function, hydration status, and chronic illnesses. In contrast, prealbumin levels are sensitive indicators of acute changes in nutrition and are often used in hospital settings to monitor nutritional therapy.
The measurement of albumin is common in various medical tests, reflecting long-term nutritional status and chronic liver disease. Prealbumin, with its rapid turnover rate, is a more sensitive marker for recent changes in nutrition and inflammation.
Low albumin levels can indicate liver disease, kidney problems, or chronic malnutrition. Conversely, low prealbumin levels are often associated with acute malnutrition, inflammation, or critical illness.

Comparison Chart


Maintains osmotic pressure, transports substances
Indicator of nutritional status, binds thyroid hormones

Production Site

Liver and choroid plexus

Abundance in Plasma

Most abundant plasma protein
Less abundant


Longer half-life
Shorter half-life, reflects immediate changes

Medical Use

Assess liver function, hydration, chronic illness
Monitor acute nutritional changes, inflammation

Albumin and Prealbumin Definitions


A major plasma protein that regulates osmotic pressure.
The patient's low albumin levels indicated possible liver dysfunction.


A protein with a short half-life, indicating acute changes in health.
Her rising prealbumin levels indicated improved nutritional status.


A protein produced by the liver, essential for maintaining blood volume.
Albumin infusions are used to treat patients with severe hypoalbuminemia.


A small protein, also known as transthyretin, produced in the liver.
Prealbumin is often measured in critically ill patients to monitor their nutritional therapy.


A marker for nutritional status and liver function.
Her albumin levels were tested to evaluate her nutritional health.


A protein used as a marker for nutritional status and inflammation.
The doctor checked his prealbumin levels to assess his recent nutritional intake.


A transport protein for various substances in the bloodstream.
Albumin carries hormones, vitamins, and drugs in the blood.


A less abundant protein in plasma compared to albumin.
Despite being less abundant, prealbumin is an important marker in clinical settings.


A protein that binds and solubilizes lipids in the blood.
Albumin plays a key role in transporting fatty acids.


A binding protein for thyroid hormones and retinol.
Prealbumin's role in transporting thyroid hormones is crucial for metabolic regulation.


Any of a class of water-soluble proteins that are found in egg white, blood serum, milk, and many other animal and plant tissues. Also called albumen.




(protein) Any of a class of monomeric proteins that are soluble in water, and are coagulated by heat; they occur in egg white, milk etc; they function as carrier protein for steroids, fatty acids, and thyroid hormones and play a role in stabilizing extracellular fluid volume.


A thick, viscous nitrogenous substance, which is the chief and characteristic constituent of white of eggs and of the serum of blood, and is found in other animal substances, both fluid and solid, also in many plants. It is soluble in water and is coagulated by heat and by certain chemical reagents.


A simple water-soluble protein found in many animal tissues and liquids


What is prealbumin?

Prealbumin, or transthyretin, is a protein that serves as a nutritional status marker.

Why is albumin important?

Albumin is crucial for fluid balance and transporting substances in the blood.

How are albumin levels used medically?

Albumin levels are used to assess liver function, hydration, and chronic illnesses.

What is the half-life of albumin?

Albumin has a longer half-life, reflecting long-term status.

Can albumin levels fluctuate quickly?

Albumin levels usually reflect long-term changes rather than acute fluctuations.

What causes low albumin levels?

Low albumin can result from liver disease, kidney problems, or malnutrition.

What is albumin?

Albumin is a major blood plasma protein important for maintaining osmotic pressure.

How is albumin administered medically?

Albumin is administered intravenously for various conditions like hypoalbuminemia.

What does prealbumin indicate?

Prealbumin indicates recent nutritional changes and can reflect inflammation.

What does a low prealbumin level mean?

Low prealbumin can indicate acute malnutrition or critical illness.

Can albumin be used to diagnose diseases?

Albumin levels can aid in diagnosing or monitoring various diseases but are not specific for any one condition.

Where is albumin produced?

Albumin is produced in the liver.

Where is prealbumin made?

Prealbumin is produced in the liver and the choroid plexus.

Is prealbumin a direct indicator of thyroid function?

Prealbumin binds thyroid hormones but is not a direct indicator of thyroid function.

Is prealbumin testing common?

Prealbumin testing is common in hospital settings for nutritional assessment.

What is the half-life of prealbumin?

Prealbumin has a shorter half-life, indicating more immediate changes.

Can prealbumin levels be affected by liver disease?

Yes, liver disease can affect prealbumin production and levels.

What is the role of albumin in drug transport?

Albumin binds and transports various drugs in the bloodstream.

How does dehydration affect albumin levels?

Dehydration can artificially elevate albumin levels due to hemoconcentration.

What nutritional factors affect prealbumin?

Dietary protein intake and overall nutritional status significantly influence prealbumin levels.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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