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Visual mnemonics for serum protein
Carlos E. Medina-De la Garza
*, Marisela Garcı
and Marı
´a de los A
´ngeles Castro-Corona
Immunology Department, School of Medicine, Universidad Auto
´noma de Nuevo Leo
Monterrey, Mexico;
Center for Research and Development in Health Sciences (CIDICS),
Universidad Auto
´noma de Nuevo Leo
´n, Monterrey, Mexico;
Biochemistry and Molecular
Medicine Department, School of Medicine, Universidad Auto
´noma de Nuevo Leo
Monterrey, Mexico
Received: 13 August 2013; Accepted: 23 August 2013; Published: 24 September 2013
Mnemonics are systems to improve and assist
memory. These learning techniques are widely
used in different settings; its name was de-
rived from the Greek goddess of memory, Mnemosyne,
daughter of Gaia and Uranus. Medicine learning is no
exception for use of these tools (1). Mnemonics based in
letters and word listings, however, have natural limita-
tions because the language used may not be of general
knowledge and therefore not at general reach. On
the contrary, visual mnemonics may have a broader
reach and be useful regardless of language or cultural
Since its description and introduction to clinical
practice, serum protein electrophoresis has been useful
as a first-line test for serum albumin and globulins and to
identify monoclonal gammopathies, agammaglobuline-
mia, polyclonal production of immunoglobulins, and
increase/decrease of other proteins (2). The electrophor-
esis drawing provided by laboratory shows five main
protein fractions of serum. Nevertheless, it is some-
times difficult for students, residents, nurses, and non-
specialized medical practitioners to remember and
recognize these fractions. After dealing with this difficulty
with medical students and residents, we propose here an
easy to remember, visual mnemonics for this purpose.
In Figure 1, ‘‘A’’ shows the schematic representation of
a normal serum protein electrophoresis densitometric
scanning with the albumin fraction a-1, a-2, b, and g
peaks. By holding the right hand as shown ‘‘B’’, we can
recall the shape of the normal electrophoresis, from which
we can derive changes in its profile indicating abnorm-
ality, mainly in clinically relevant gamma fraction (i.e., a
spike for monoclonal gammopathies, a broad peak for
polyclonal gammopathies or absence for agammaglobu-
linemia) (2). Although this hand-aided outline is by no
means a diagnostic mnemonics for itself, to recall the
normal profile and the five main peaks of serum pro-
tein electrophoresis scanning is the first step to detect
(page number not for citation purpose)
Fig. 1. Right-hand position for serum protein electropho-
resis mnemonics.
Medical Education Online 2013. #2013 Carlos E. Medina-De la Garza et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) Licence (, permitting all non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any
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Citation: Med Educ Online 2013, 18: 22585 -
changes/anomalies and alert for further testing and
diagnosis by proper techniques.
1. Yousaf S, Chaudhry M. Mnemonics for medical undergraduates.
Knutsford: PasTest Ltd; 2006.
2. O’Connell TX, Horita TJ, Kasravi B. Understanding and
interpreting serum protein electrophoresis. Am Fam Physician
2005; 71: 10512.
*Carlos E. Medina-De la Garza
Center for Research and Development in Health Sciences (CIDICS)
Universidad Auto
´noma de Nuevo Leo
Av. Carlos Canseco s/n and Av. Gonzalitos, Mitras Centro
Monterrey, N. L. 64460 Me
Tel: 52(81) 1340 4370 Ext. 1705
Carlos E. Medina-De la Garza et al.
(page number not for citation purpose) Citation: Med Educ Online 2013, 18: 22585 -
... Для цього, передусім, використовують такі мнемонічні прийоми як мнемоніку за першими літерами або акроніми, мнемоніку методом римування та зорову мнемоніку. Під останньою мають на увазі знаходження яскравих незвичайних асоціацій (картинка, образ), які поєднуються з інформацією, що запам'ятовується [3][4][5][6]. ...
The development of a methodology for the effective assimilation of various information is one of the urgent problems of scientific and pedagogical activity. The course of anatomy, due to its specificity, is one of the most time-consuming subjects in medical education. In the preparation of first-year students at the Department of Human Anatomy, a phased level of education is used with a gradual complication of the information received. The use of mnemonics is impossible without certain knowledge about the features of memory, its forms and types, as well as the processes underlying memory: encoding, storage, and retrieval. There are very few mnemonics available for studying human anatomy in the medical literature. The purpose of the study was to offer mnemonics, especially rhymed, to improve students' memorization of human anatomy and thus to improve the knowledge of the subject. Results and discussion. The article presents the results of the study of mnemonics (rhymed, alliteration and visual schemes) and explains the features of their use for encoding, storage, and retrieval of educational material from different sections of human anatomy by students. Basic principles of mnemonics, such as the use of associations, elaborative encoding and creating the emotional bonds can be successfully integrated into the study of anatomy. One of the most effective methods in teaching human anatomy is schematization, that is a conditionally simplified image of the structure of morphological formations. While preparing for lectures and practical classes, anatomical drawings and diagrams are selected and adapted. The scheme allows to imagine and to understand the anatomical structures in various projections and different sections, to trace the topographic and functional connections of individual organs and systems as a whole. Thus students form a certain anatomical image as the basis for future clinical thinking. It is noted that memorizing the right terms, words, concepts, and explanation of some anatomical facts is much easier in the poetic form. Conclusion. By transforming anatomy teaching material into the form of visual image or by comparing it with existing knowledge using associations and rhyming provides more consistency, involvement in obtaining new knowledge, interest in classes. Association formation has a positive effect on the brain, helps to improve student's skills of synthesis, analysis and the ability to systematize knowledge, helps to memorize large amounts of information faster and more efficiently. The use of mnemonics, especially the method of rhyming, visual mnemonics, acronyms for human anatomy makes it possible to improve the quality of knowledge of the subject
... The protein content and its shape represented in the elec-trophoregram are similar to "six" in gesture language. [14] At present, there are various types of SPE in clinical practice, and the commonly used electrophoresis techniques are cellulose acetate membrane electrophoresis, agarose gel electrophoresis, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, immune electrophoresis, etc., with roughly similar principles of operation. ...
Serum protein electrophoresis is used to identify patients with multiple myeloma and other serum protein disorders. Electrophoresis separates proteins based on their physical properties, and the subsets of these proteins are used in interpreting the results. Plasma protein levels display reasonably predictable changes in response to acute inflammation, malignancy, trauma, necrosis, infarction, burns, and chemical injury. A homogeneous spike-like peak in a focal region of the gamma-globulin zone indicates a monoclonal gammopathy. Monoclonal gammopathies are associated with a clonal process that is malignant or potentially malignant, including multiple myeloma, Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, solitary plasmacytoma, smoldering multiple myeloma, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, plasma cell leukemia, heavy chain disease, and amyloidosis. The quantity of M protein, the results of bone marrow biopsy, and other characteristics can help differentiate multiple myeloma from the other causes of monoclonal gammopathy. In contrast, polyclonal gammopathies may be caused by any reactive or inflammatory process.
Mnemonics for medical undergraduates. Knutsford: PasTest Ltd
  • S Yousaf
  • M Chaudhry
Yousaf S, Chaudhry M. Mnemonics for medical undergraduates. Knutsford: PasTest Ltd; 2006.