Specificity and clinical utility of methods for the detection of macroprolactin.

Research paper by Lucille L Kavanagh, T Joseph TJ McKenna, Michael N MN Fahie-Wilson, James J Gibney, Thomas P TP Smith

Indexed on: 06 May '06Published on: 06 May '06Published in: Clinical chemistry


Increased serum concentrations of macroprolactin are a relatively common cause of misdiagnosis and mismanagement of hyperprolactinemic patients.We studied sera from a cohort of 42 patients whose biochemical hyperprolactinemia was explained entirely by macroprolactin. Using 5 pretreatments, polyethylene glycol (PEG), protein A (PA), protein G (PG), anti-human IgG (anti-hIgG), and ultrafiltration (UF), to deplete macroprolactin from sera before immunoassay, we compared residual prolactin concentrations with monomer concentrations obtained by gel-filtration chromatography (GFC). A monomeric prolactin standard was used to assess recovery and specificity of the pretreatment procedures.Residual prolactin concentrations in all pretreated sera differed significantly (P < 0.001) from monomeric concentrations obtained after GFC. PEG underestimated (mean, 75%), whereas PA, PG, anti-hIgG, and UF overestimated (means, 178%, 151%, 178%, and 112%, respectively) the amount of monomer present. Of the 5 methods examined, PEG correlated best with GFC (r = 0.80) followed by PG (r = 0.78), PA (r = 0.72), anti-hIgG (r = 0.70), and UF (r = 0.61). After UF or pretreatment with anti-hIgG or PEG, recovery of monomeric prolactin standard was low: 60%, 85%, and 77% respectively. In contrast, pretreatment with PA or PG gave almost quantitative recovery.None of the methods examined yielded results identical to the GFC method. PEG pretreatment yielded results that correlated best and is recommended as the first-choice alternative to GFC.