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Hemoglobin Electrophoresis

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Hemoglobin electrophoresis is used to determine abnormal types of hemoglobin or amounts of hemoglobin, the oxygen transfer molecule in the blood.

In practice, the hemoglobin molecules are placed in a solution through which a direct current passes. Different types of hemoglobin move through the solution at different speeds depending on their electrical charges. This movement allows the mapping of the types and relative amounts of hemoglobin present in the sample.

Types of Hemoglobin normally found in the body

The types of hemoglobin normally found in the body are as follows:

  • Hemoglobin A1: This is the main type of hemoglobin found in the blood of adults.
  • Hemoglobin A2: This type represents a small percentage of the hemoglobin normally found in adults.
  • Hemoglobin F: This hemoglobin, also known as fetal hemoglobin, is normally found in the blood in a very small amount in adults. Elevated hemoglobin F in an adult may be due to sickle cell anemia, leukemia, thalassemia, or hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin. In the fetus, hemoglobin F is the main form of hemoglobin and is responsible for the transport of oxygen when little oxygen is available.
Types of Hemoglobin that are usually absent from the body
  • Hemoglobin C: This hemoglobin causes red blood cells more susceptible to lysis than normal. These red blood cells have a reduced life span.
  • Hemoglobin D/E: When these types of hemoglobin are present in a patient with sickle cell anemia or thalassemia, the disease tends to be more severe.
  • Hemoglobin H: This type of hemoglobin disrupts normal oxygen transport to body tissues. Hemoglobin H binds oxygen in a way that prevents it from being available in the tissues.
  • Hemoglobin S: This type of hemoglobin causes red blood cells to form sickle cells in response to reduced oxygen levels. Its presence is the basis for the diagnosis of the heterozygosity of sickle cell anemia and sickle cell disease.
Possible Interpretations of Pathological Values
  • Heterozygous hemoglobin C disease: Hemoglobin C > 45%
  • Homozygous hemoglobin C disease: Hemoglobin C > 90%
  • Hemolytic anemia: Presence of Hemoglobin D and Hemoglobin E
  • Heterozygous sickle cell disease
    • Hemoglobin S 20-40%
    • Hemoglobin A1 60-80%
    • Hemoglobin F < 2%
  • Sickle cell disease
    • Hemoglobin S 80-100%
    • Hemoglobin A1 0%
    • Hemoglobin F < 2%
  • Heterozygous B Mediterranean anemia
    • Hemoglobin F 2-8%
    • Hemoglobin A2 < 1%
  • Mediterranean B anemia (homozygous)
    • Hemoglobin F 20-90%
    • Low hemoglobin A1
    • Hemoglobin A2 can be normal, low, or high



Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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