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J Chromatogr B Biomed Sci Appl. 2000 Sep 29;747(1-2):33-48.

Clinical chemistry of serotonin and metabolites.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands.


Analyses of serotonin and other 5-hydroxyindoles, such as its precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan and major metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), are indispensable for the elucidation of their (patho)physiological roles. In clinical chemistry attention is mainly focused on the diagnosis and follow-up of carcinoid tumours. For this most laboratories routinely measure urinary 5-HIAA. More recently, measurements of serotonin in platelets and urine have been advocated. Platelet serotonin may be the most sensitive indole marker for the detection of carcinoid tumours that secrete only small amounts of serotonin and/or its precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan. Although several chromatographic techniques have emerged for the analysis of tryptophan-related indoles, HPLC with either electrochemical or fluorometric detection have become the methods of choice for their quantification. HPLC-based methods combine selectivity, sensitivity and high precision, and enable the simultaneous investigation of several metabolically related indoles. This review aims to place the analysis of indoles in biological matrices in a biochemical, physiological and clinical perspective and highlights several important steps in their chromatographic analysis and quantification.

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