Human serum albumin is the most abundant protein in humanblood plasma. It is produced in the liver. Albumin constitutes about half of the blood serum protein. It is soluble and monomeric.
Albumin transports hormones, fatty acids, and other compounds, buffers pH, and maintains osmotic pressure, among other functions.
Albumin is synthesized in the liver as preproalbumin, which has an N-terminal peptide that is removed before the nascent protein is released from the rough endoplasmic reticulum. The product, proalbumin, is in turn cleaved in the Golgi vesicles to produce the secreted albumin.
The reference range for albumin concentrations in serum is approximately 35 - 50 g/L (3.5 - 5.0 g/dL). It has a serum half-life of approximately 20 days. It has a molecular mass of 67 kDa.
The gene for albumin is located on chromosome 4 and mutations in this gene can result in anomalous proteins. The human albumin gene is 16,961 nucleotides long from the putative 'cap' site to the first poly(A) addition site. It is split into 15 exons that are symmetrically placed within the 3 domains thought to have arisen by triplication of a single primordial domain.
Typically, this condition is a sign of severe or chronic dehydration. Chronic dehydration needs to be treated with zinc as well as with water. Zinc reduces cell swelling caused by decreased intake of water (hypotonicity) and also increases retention of salt. In the dehydrated state, the body has too high an osmolarity and, it appears, discards zinc to prevent this. Zinc also regulates transport of the cellular osmolyte taurine, and albumin is known to increase cellular taurine absorption. Zinc has been shown to increase retinol (vitamin A) production from beta-carotene, and in lab experiments retinol reduced human albumin production. It is possible that a retinol (vitamin A) deficiency alone could cause albumin levels to become raised. Patients recovering from chronic dehydration may develop dry eyes as the body uses up its vitamin A store. Retinol causes cells to swell with water (this is most likely one reason that too much vitamin A is toxic). Hyperalbuminemia is also associated with high protein diets.
Human albumin solution or HSA is available for medical use, usually at concentrations of 5-25%.
Human albumin is often used to replace lost fluid and help restore blood volume in trauma, burns and surgery patients. A Cochranesystematic review of 37 trials found no evidence that albumin, compared with cheaper alternatives such as saline, reduces the risk of dying.
It has not been shown to give better results than other fluids when used simply to replace volume, but is frequently used in conditions where loss of albumin is a major problem, such as liver disease with ascites.
It has been known for a long time that human blood proteins like hemoglobin and serum albumin may undergo a slow non-enzymatic glycation, mainly by formation of a Schiff base between ε-amino groups of lysine (and sometimes arginine) residues and glucose molecules in blood (Maillard reaction). This reaction can be inhibited in the presence of antioxidant agents. Although this reaction may happen normally, elevated glycoalbumin is observed in diabetes mellitus.
Glycation has the potential to alter the biological structure and function of the serum albumin protein.
Moreover, the glycation can result in the formation of Advanced Glycosylation End-Products (AGE), which result in abnormal biological effects. Accumulation of AGEs leads to tissue damage via alteration of the structures and functions of tissue proteins, stimulation of cellular responses, through receptors specific for AGE-proteins, and generation of reactive oxygen intermediates. AGEs also react with DNA, thus causing mutations and DNA transposition. Thermal processing of proteins and carbohydrates brings major changes in allergenicity. AGEs are antigenic and represent many of the important neoantigens found in cooked or stored foods. They also interfere with the normal product of nitric oxide in cells.
Although there are several lysine and arginine residues in the serum albumin structure, very few of them can take part in the glycation reaction. It is not clear exactly why only these residues are glycated in serum albumin, but it is suggested that non-covalent binding of glucose to serum albumin prior to the covalent bond formation might be the reason.
Loss via kidneys
In the healthy kidney, albumin's size and negative electric charge exclude it from excretion in the glomerulus. This is not always the case, as in some diseases including diabetic nephropathy, a major complication of uncontrolled diabetes in which proteins can cross the glomerulus. The lost albumin can be detected by a simple urine test. Depending on the amount of albumin lost, a patient may have normal renal function, microalbuminuria, or albuminuria.
Amino acid sequence
The approximate sequence of human serum albumin is:
The italicized first 24 amino acids are signal and propeptide portions not observed in the transcribed, translated, and transported protein but present in the gene. There are 609 amino acids in this sequence with only 585 amino acids in the final product observed in the blood.
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