A Single Fasting Plasma 5-HIAA Value Correlates With 24-Hour Urinary 5-HIAA Values and Other Biomarkers in Midgut Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)

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5-Hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) is used for the evaluation of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) but currently requires a 24-hour urine collection.


We developed a gas chromatography mass spectroscopy–based plasma 5-HIAA assay. We compared 24-hour urine 5-HIAA values against plasma 5-HIAA values in 115 mixed-variety patients with NETs and in a subset of 72 patients with only small bowel NETs. We also compared the information gained from urinary and plasma 5-HIAA values with other biomarkers of midgut NET activity to determine the plasma assay’s clinical implications.


In a group of 115 patients with all types of NETS, in a subset of patients with midgut NET and in a subgroup of midgut NETS with liver metastasis, the correlation between the urine and fasting plasma 5-HIAA values were statistically significant (P ≤ 0.0001). Comparison of the proportion of normal or abnormal urinary and plasma 5-HIAA values to the proportion of chromogranin, serotonin, neurokinin, or pancreastatin values that were in the normal or abnormal range yielded essentially identical information.


Plasma fasting 5-HIAA values are proportional to urinary 5-HIAA values and yielded identical clinical correlation with other biomarkers.

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