Plasma-free vs deconjugated metanephrines for diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma
Correspondence: Pamporaki Christina, Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus at the TU Dresden Fetscherstraße 74, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.Tel.: 0049 351 458 14578; Fax: 0049 351 458 7346; E-mail: Christina.Pamporaki@uniklinikum-dresden.de
The diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma is commonly performed by the measurements of plasma-free normetanephrine and metanephrine. Plasma-deconjugated normetanephrine and metanephrine have been proposed as alternative, equivalent, but easier to measure biomarkers.
The aim of this study was to compare the diagnostic performance of plasma-free vs deconjugated normetanephrine and metanephrine in patients tested for phaeochromocytoma.
The study population included a reference group of 262 normotensive and hypertensive volunteers, 198 patients with phaeochromocytoma and 528 patients initially suspected of having the tumour, but with negative investigations after at least 2 years of follow-up. Measurements were performed using liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection.
Plasma concentrations of free normetanephrine were 17-fold higher in patients with phaeochromocytoma than in the reference population, a 72% larger (P < 0·001) difference than that for the 10-fold higher levels of plasma-deconjugated normetanephrine. In contrast, relative increases in plasma concentrations of free and deconjugated metanephrine were similar. Using upper cut-offs established in the reference population, measurements of plasma-free metabolites provided superior diagnostic performance than deconjugated metabolites according to measures of both sensitivity (97% vs 92%, P = 0·002) and specificity (93% vs 89%, P = 0·012). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for the free metabolites was larger than that for the deconjugated metabolites (0·986 vs 0·965, P < 0·001).
Measurements of plasma-free normetanephrine and metanephrine are superior to the deconjugated metabolites for diagnosis of phaeochromocytoma.