What Are Globulins? - Definition & Types

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What Is Uric Acid? - Levels, Causes & Symptoms

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Globulins
  • 0:29 Alpha and Beta Types
  • 1:17 Gamma Type
  • 3:10 Globulin Testing
  • 4:12 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

Globulins are instrumental in protecting our bodies and helping them function properly. This lesson will discuss what globulins are, the different types of globulins, and their various functions in the body.


At first, globulins sound like something you would expect to have jump out at you at a haunted house. But they're far from that. As you are going to learn, they are actually far from scary and very beneficial to our bodies. Globulins are proteins in the blood that help to protect the body.

Not all globulins are alike though! There are three main types of globulins that are produced in different parts of the body to carry out different functions.

Alpha and Beta Types

Alpha globulins are blood proteins that are produced in the liver that serve several functions in the body. There are two types of alpha globulins, alpha-1 and alpha-2. They differ ever so slightly in structure but complete the same functions in the body. They carry hormones, cholesterol, and copper through the bloodstream and act as an enzyme for certain chemical reactions in the body. Alpha globulins also work to help or prevent the actions of other enzymes, such as those that cause the blood to clump.

Beta globulins are also blood proteins produced in the liver, with a similar structure to the alpha types. There are beta-1 and beta-2 globulins. They carry lipids, hormones, and cholesterol through the bloodstream and assist immune cells in mounting an immune response to invading bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Gamma Type

Gamma globulins are blood proteins produced by lymphocytes and plasma cells of the immune system when an immune response is needed. Almost all gamma globulins are known as immunoglobulins, also called antibodies, which are globulins that help with immune responses and immunity. There are three main types of immunoglobulins: IgM, IgG, and IgA. These immunoglobulins are produced in varying amounts when needed for an immune response to bacteria, viruses, and toxins.

IgM is the largest of the immunoglobulins and produced the first time a particular bacteria, virus, or other antigen invades the body. It's instrumental in beginning the immune response to fight invading bacteria and viruses. IgM is produced by plasma cells in the spleen and lymph nodes and circulates through the blood and lymph fluids.

IgG is the most numerous of the immunoglobulins. It's produced by plasma cells and helps the immune system identify invading bacteria, viruses, and fungi. It also helps with the cascade of steps needed to fully mount an immune response. When toxins enter the body, IgG binds to them to help neutralize toxins, so they do not have as toxic of an effect on the body. This particular immunoglobulin is found in every fluid in the body, which speaks to just how important it is.

IgA is constantly produced to help protect the respiratory and digestive tracts. It's also produced by plasma cells, but it's the plasma cells in the mucus membranes that produce IgA. IgA is primarily found in the mucus membranes in the respiratory and digestive tracts as well as in tears and saliva. It is only found in small amounts in the blood. This immunoglobulin helps the immune system by preventing invading bacteria from being able to attach to surfaces in the body and from entering the bloodstream. It also helps to neutralize toxins and with the identification of invading bacteria.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account