Protein Error of Indicators
Testing for protein is based on the phenomenon called the "Protein Error of Indicators" (ability of protein to alter the color of some acid-base indicators without altering the pH). In a solution void of protein, tetrabromphenol blue, buffered at a pH of 3, is yellow. However, in the presence of protein (albumin), the color changes to green, then blue, depending upon the concentration. This method is more sensitive to albumin than to globulin, detecting as little as 5 mg albumin/dL urine. Bence Jones protein and mucoprotein are examples of globulin components that are sometimes present in urine, but are not distinguishable by the dipstick method for protein.