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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Alpha Thalassemia. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Hemoglobin Electrophoresis Theory

Hemoglobin electrophoresis is the movement of hemoglobin proteins in an electric field at a fixed pH.

Since different types of hemoglobin molecules are comprised of different combinations of globin chains (normal or abnormal), they will demonstrate different degrees of mobility. Typically, when a thalassemia or hemoglobinopathy is suspected, an alkaline electrophoresis is performed which may be confirmed with acid electrophoresis.

For an alkaline hemoglobin electrophoresis, a hemolysate is applied to cellulose acetate which is electrophoresed in a buffer at pH 8.4-8.6. At this pH hemoglobin proteins move from cathode to anode. The proteins are visualized by the application of a dye which also makes them measurable by densitometry.