Testing.com is fully supported by readers. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. You can read more about how we make money here.

  • Also Known As:
  • 24-Hour Urine Protein
  • Urine Total Protein
  • Urine Protein to Creatinine Ratio
  • UPCR
Board approved icon
Medically Reviewed by Expert Board.

This page was fact checked by our expert Medical Review Board for accuracy and objectivity. Read more about our editorial policy and review process.

This article was last modified on
Learn more about...
  • 1
    Order Your Test

    Online or over the phone

  • 2
    Find a Lab Near You

    Over 3,500 locations to choose from

  • 3
    Get Your Results
    Sent Directly to You

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To screen for excess protein in the urine, to help evaluate and monitor kidney function, and to detect kidney damage

When To Get Tested?

As part of a routine physical, often as part of a urinalysis; urine total protein and urine protein to creatinine ratio (UPCR) have traditionally been used as important indicators of kidney disease and as a follow-up testing for monitoring the disease. However, albumin to creatinine ratio (ACR) is now the preferred testing for these purposes.

UPCR should still be requested to identify preeclampsia in pregnant women and where the excess urine total protein is suspected to be other than albumin.

Sample Required?

A single urine sample is collected in a clean container at any time (random/spot). For a 24-hour urine collection, the collection process generally begins first thing in the morning by discarding the first morning void and then collecting all of the urine for the remaining 24-hour period. The sample must be refrigerated during this period. There should be no preservatives in the container. Occasionally, a split 24-hour sample, with the night collection (11 pm to 7 am) separated from the day collection (7 am to 11 pm), may be used. Often, a blood sample may also be taken to measure your creatinine and serum protein levels, especially when 24-hour urine has been ordered.

Since the results from both types of sample collection methods are highly correlated, the spot urine collection may be used as a rapid and reliable alternative for UPCR measurement.

Test Preparation Needed?


What is being tested?

Urine protein tests detect and/or measure protein being released into the urine. Normal urine protein elimination is less than 150 mg/day and less than 30 mg of albumin/day. Elevated levels may be seen temporarily with conditions such as infections, stress, pregnancy, diet, cold exposure, or heavy exercise. Persistent protein in the urine suggests possible kidney damage or some other condition that requires additional testing to determine the cause.

There are several different kinds of urine protein tests, including:

  • A semi-quantitative protein “dipstick” may be performed as part of a urinalysis, generally on a random urine sample.
  • The quantity of protein in a 24-hour urine sample may be measured and reported as the amount of protein released per 24 hours.
  • The amount of protein in a random urine sample may be measured along with urine creatinine and reported as the ratio of urine protein to creatinine (UPCR).

Creatinine, a byproduct of muscle metabolism, is normally released into the urine at a constant rate. When both a urine creatinine and a random urine protein test are performed, the resulting protein/creatinine ratio approaches the accuracy of the 24-hour urine protein test. Since saving all of the urine for 24 hours can be cumbersome for adults and difficult for infants and children, a random urine protein to creatinine ratio is sometimes substituted for a 24-hour urine protein sample.

Plasma proteins are essential for all living beings. The kidneys, two organs found in the back at the bottom of the rib cage, recapture these proteins by filtering the blood by removing wastes and eliminating them from the body in the urine. When the kidneys are functioning normally, they retain or reabsorb the filtered proteins and return them to the blood.

However, if the kidneys are damaged or compromised due to other conditions, they become less effective at filtering, causing detectible amounts of protein to spill over into the urine. Routine dipstick testing of urine measures the presence of albumin. Albumin, a protein produced by the liver, makes up about 50%-60% of the protein in the blood. The rest is a mixture of globulins, including immunoglobulins. As kidney damage progresses, the amount of albumin in the urine increases, a key factor in the early detection of a potential kidney disorder.

Protein in the urine, also called proteinuria, is frequently seen in chronic diseases, such as diabetes and/or hypertension, with increasing amounts of protein in the urine reflecting increasing kidney damage. There are often no signs and symptoms with early kidney damage. As kidney damage progresses, or if protein loss is severe, you may develop symptoms such as fluid build-up (edema), shortness of breath, nausea, and fatigue. The production of too much protein, as seen with multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and amyloidosis, can also lead to proteinuria.

The presence of albumin in the urine (albuminuria) is a sensitive indicator of kidney disease in people with diabetes and/or hypertension. Therefore, it is recommended that people with these conditions be regularly screened for albumin in the urine, as opposed to total urine protein.

Common Questions

How is the test used?

Urine protein testing is used to detect excess protein in the urine (proteinuria). A semi-quantitative test such as a dipstick urine protein may be used to screen for the presence of protein in the urine as part of a routine urinalysis.

A urine protein test may be used to screen for, help evaluate, and monitor kidney function and to help detect and diagnose early kidney damage and/or disease. However, the test can also help screen for several other conditions that can cause proteinuria.

If slight to moderate amounts of protein are detected, then a repeat urinalysis and dipstick protein may be performed at a later time to see if there is still protein in the urine or if it has become undetectable.

If there is a large amount of protein in the first sample, repeat testing will be ordered. If increased levels of urine protein are observed in follow-up specimens, then a 24-hour urine protein may be ordered along with certain blood tests. Since the dipstick method primarily measures the protein albumin, and if follow-up, repeat urine samples are positive, a 24-hour urine test also may be ordered to obtain more detailed information.

A urine protein to creatinine ratio (UP/CR) may be ordered on a random urine sample if there is evidence of significant and persistent protein in the urine. Children and sometimes adults occasionally have some degree of transient proteinuria without apparent kidney dysfunction and may release more protein into their urine during the day than at night. The healthcare practitioner may monitor their urine at intervals to see if the amount of proteinuria changes over time.

Either a 24-hour urine protein or a random protein to creatinine ratio may be used to monitor a person with known kidney disease or damage. A dipstick urine protein and/or a protein to creatinine ratio may be used to screen people on a regular basis when they are taking a medication that may affect their kidney function.

When is it ordered?

A dipstick urine protein is measured (primarily albumin) frequently as a screening test whenever a urinalysis is performed. This may be done as part of a routine physical, a pregnancy workup, when a urinary tract infection is suspected, as part of a hospital admission, or whenever a healthcare practitioner wants to evaluate kidney function. Repeat testing may also be done when a previous dipstick has been positive for protein to see if the protein persists.

Specifically for monitoring people with possible kidney dysfunction, the National Kidney Foundation has established a 5-step plan for chronic kidney disease (CKD) evaluation and referral using random (spot) urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR), rather than random UPCR, to screen for and determine the prognosis of CKD, for urine protein is more difficult to standardize.

A 24-hour urine protein may be ordered as a follow-up test, especially in pregnant women with a high pre-screen risk of preeclampsia, when the dipstick test shows that there is a large quantity of protein present in the urine or when protein is shown to be persistently present.

Since the dipstick primarily measures albumin, the health care practitioner may order a 24-hour urine protein test even when there is little protein detected on the dipstick if the practitioner suspects that there may be proteins other than albumin being released.

A protein to creatinine ratio may be ordered on a random urine sample when a child shows evidence of significant and persistent protein in their urine with the dipstick urine test.

Urine protein testing may be ordered on a regular basis when you are taking a medication that may potentially affect kidney function, including certain antibiotics, analgesics, COX-2 inhibitors (some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and proton pump inhibitors (gastric reflux).

What does the test result mean?

A negative test result means that there is no detectable amount of protein in the urine at the time of testing.

Protein detected in a random urine sample may be temporary due to an infection, medication, vigorous exercise, pregnancy, diet, cold exposure, or emotional or physical stress. Testing should be repeated after these conditions have resolved.

Protein in the urine can also be a warning sign of a serious condition and usually warrants further investigation. Typically, three positive urine samples over a period of time without other significant symptoms will often be followed up with additional tests, including a 24-hour urine.

Persistent and/or an increased amount of protein in the urine may indicate kidney damage or disease. With kidney disease, the amount of protein present is generally associated with the severity of the damage. Increasing amounts of protein over time indicate increasing damage and decreasing kidney function. The most common cause of protein in the urine is kidney damage resulting from:

  • Diabetes – proteinuria is one of the first signs of deteriorating kidney function in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) – proteinuria in someone with high blood pressure is also a first sign of declining kidney function.

Proteinuria may also be seen with many other diseases and conditions. A healthcare practitioner may order other tests and take into account those results to help determine the cause. Some examples of these causes include:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Preeclampsia
  • Lupus
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Amyloidosis
  • Bladder cancer
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Drug therapies that are potentially toxic to the kidneys
  • Goodpasture syndrome
  • Heavy metal poisoning

If I have a positive urine protein test, what other tests might be done in follow up?

A positive urine protein test tells your healthcare practitioner that protein is present in your urine, but it does not indicate which types are present or the cause of the proteinuria. When investigating the reason, your health care practitioner may order additional laboratory tests, such as:

  • Comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP)—includes tests such as BUN, creatinine, albumin and total protein, which help evaluate kidney and liver function
  • A full urinalysis—if a condition such as urinary tract infection is also suspected
  • Serum and urine protein electrophoresis test—to determine which proteins are being released into the urine and in what quantities; this is especially true if your health care practitioner suspects abnormal monoclonal protein production, such as with multiple myeloma or lymphoma.

If kidney disease or damage is suspected, your healthcare practitioner may also order imaging scans (ultrasonography or CT scan) to evaluate the appearance of your kidneys.

Is there anything else I should know?

The different methods of detecting protein in the urine vary in performance. For example, a positive dipstick protein may be elevated due to other sources of protein, such as blood, semen, or vaginal secretions in the urine. Since it measures primarily albumin, the dipstick may occasionally be normal when significant quantities of other proteins are present in the urine.

A 24-hour urine sample gives the protein elimination rate over 24 hours. It will be accurate only if all of the urine is collected. The protein to creatinine ratio is more of a snapshot of how much protein is in the urine at the time the sample is collected. If it is elevated, then protein is present; if it is negative, the amounts or the type of protein released in urine may not be detectable at that time.

Can I test for protein in my urine at home?

There are urine dipstick kits available that allow you to monitor the protein in your urine. This is usually not necessary, though, unless your health care provider is monitoring a known kidney condition.

Does kidney damage go away?

In general, it does not. The goal is to detect kidney disease and damage early to minimize the damage and prolong kidney function. If the proteinuria detected is due to a kidney infection or urinary tract infection, the kidneys frequently will return to normal function as the infection resolves. If it is due to a medication, then in most cases the kidneys are likely to return to normal or near-normal function when the medication is stopped.

Should I eat more protein to make up for lost protein?

This is something to discuss with your health care provider. If you have severe protein shortages, then that will need to be addressed, but consuming additional protein also puts additional stress on your kidneys.

Health Professionals – LOINC

Logo for LOINC from RegenstriefLOINC Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC®) is the international standard for identifying health measurements, observations, and documents. It provides a common language to unambiguously identify things you can measure or observe that enables the exchange and aggregation of clinical results for care delivery, outcomes management, and research. Learn More.

Listed in the table below are the LOINC with links to the LOINC detail pages. Please note when you click on the hyperlinked code, you are leaving Testing.com and accessing Loinc.org.

LOINC LOINC Display Name
13801-6 Protein/Creatinine (24H U) [Mass ratio]
2890-2 Protein/Creatinine (U) [Mass ratio]
40486-3 Protein/Creatinine (24H U) [Ratio]
34366-5 Protein/Creatinine (U) [Ratio]
27298-9 Protein Qn (U)
21028-6 Protein (24H U) [Interp]
50749-1 Protein (U) [Interp]
21482-5 Protein (24H U) [Mass/Vol]
2888-6 Protein (U) [Mass/Vol]
50561-0 Protein Auto test strip (U) [Mass/Vol]
5804-0 Protein Test strip (U) [Mass/Vol]
35663-4 Protein Unsp time (U) [Mass/Vol]
2889-4 Protein (24H U) [Mass/Time]
32209-9 Protein Test strip Ql (24H U)
2887-8 Protein Ql (U)
53525-2 Protein SSA method Ql (U)
57735-3 Protein Auto test strip Ql (U)
20454-5 Protein Test strip Ql (U)


View Sources

Sources Used for Current Review

2020 review performed by Li-Sheng Chen, PhD, DABCC, FACB.

(©2020) National Kidney Foundation. What You Should Know About Proteinuria. Available online at https://www.kidney.org/atoz/content/proteinuriawyska. Accessed on 4/23/2020.

(©2020) National Kidney Foundation. Kidney Disease. Available online at https://www.kidney.org/kidneydisease. Accessed on 4/23/2020.

Inker LA, Astor BC, Fox CH, et al. KDOQI US commentary on the 2012 KDIGO clinical practice guideline for the evaluation and management of CKD. Am J Kidney Dis. 2014;63(5):713–735. doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2014.01.416.

Carroll MF, Temte JL. Proteinuria in adults: a diagnostic approach. Am Fam Physician. 2000;62(6):1333–1340.

Henderson JT, Thompson JH, Burda BU, Cantor A, Beil T, Whitlock EP. Screening for Preeclampsia: A Systematic Evidence Review for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2017.

Sources Used for Previous Reviews

Thomas, Clayton L., Editor (1997). Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA [18th Edition].

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (2001). Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 5th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO.

(2004 March 17, Updated) A.D.A.M. editorial, Agha, I., previously reviewed. Protein-urine. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003580.htm.

Brose, M, Updated (2003 May 8). Protein electrophoresis – urine. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003589.htm.

Carroll, M. and Temte, J. (2000 September 15). Proteinuria in Adults: A Diagnostic Approach. American Family Physician [On-line journal]. Available online at http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000915/1333.html.

Loghman-Adham, M. (1998 October 1). Evaluating Proteinuria in Children. American Family Physician [On-line journal]. Available online at http://www.aafp.org/afp/981001ap/loghman.html.

(2003 June) Proteinuria. Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, NIH Publication No. 03-4732 [On-line information]. Available online at http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/proteinuria/.

Pagana, Kathleen D. & Pagana, Timothy J. (© 2007). Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference. 8th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 971-978.

Clarke, W. and Dufour, D. R., Editors (2006). Contemporary Practice in Clinical Chemistry. AACC Press. Washington, DC. Pp 312-317.

Wu, A. (2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests. Fourth Edition. Saunders Elsevier. St. Louis, Missouri. Pp 916-919.

Mushnick, R. (2007 October 22, Updated). Protein – urine. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003580.htm. Accessed on 9/30/08.

Mushnick, R. (2007 October 22, Updated). 24-hour urine protein. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003622.htm. Accessed on 9/30/08.

Aggarwal, N. et. al. (2008 April 22). A Prospective Comparison of Random Urine Protein-Creatinine Ratio vs 24-hour Urine Protein in Women With Preeclampsia. Medscape J Med. 2008;10(4):98 [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/571729. Accessed on 9/30/08.

(2005 November). Proteinuria: Approach to the Genitourinary Patient. Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec17/ch226/ch226j.html?qt=urine%20protein&alt=sh. Accessed on 9/30/08.

Lerma, E. and McLaughlin, K. (2007 February 5, Updated). Proteinuria. EMedicine [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.emedicine.com/med/TOPIC94.HTM. Accessed on 9/30/08.

Dugdale, D. (Updated 2011 August 20). Protein – urine. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003580.htm. Accessed October 2012.

Dugdale, D. (Updated 2011 August 21). 24-hour urine protein. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003622.htm. Accessed October 2012.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby’s Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 1003-1004.

Clarke, W., Editor (© 2011). Contemporary Practice in Clinical Chemistry 2nd Edition: AACC Press, Washington, DC. Pp 366-368.

(© 1995-2012). Protein, Total, Urine. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/8261. Accessed October 2012.

Barclay, L. (2011 August 4). Urine Dipstick Protein Test Detects Silent Kidney Disease. Medscape Medical News [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/747567. Accessed October 2012.

Lerma, E. et. al. (2015 December 10 Updated). Proteinuria. Medscape Drugs and Diseases [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/238158-overview. Accessed 4/17/16.

(2014 April). Proteinuria. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/kidney-disease/proteinuria/Pages/facts.aspx. Accessed 4/17/16.

Martin, L. (2014 November 2 Updated). Protein urine test. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003580.htm. Accessed 4/17/16.

(© 1995–2016). Protein, Total, 24 Hour, Urine. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Clinical+and+Interpretive/8261. Accessed 4/17/16.

Mayo Clinic Staff (2014 May 8). Protein in Urine. Mayo Clinic [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/protein-in-urine/basics/definition/SYM-20050656. Accessed 4/17/16.

Cohen, E. and Lippold, C. (2016 March 8 Updated). Nephrotic Syndrome. Medscape Drugs and Diseases [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/244631-overview. Accessed 4/17/16.

Lin J, Denker BM. Azotemia and Urinary Abnormalities. In: Kasper D, Fauci A, Hauser S, Longo D, Jameson J, Loscalzo J. eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 19e. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2015. Available online at http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com.libproxy1.upstate.edu/content.aspx?bookid=1130&Sectionid=79726507. Accessed April 17, 2016.


Ask a Laboratory Scientist

Ask a Laboratory Scientist

This form enables patients to ask specific questions about lab tests. Your questions will be answered by a laboratory scientist as part of a voluntary service provided by one of our partners, American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science. Please allow 2-3 business days for an email response from one of the volunteers on the Consumer Information Response Team.

Send Us Your Question