While most circulating metanephrines are derived directly from adrenal secretion, peripheral concentration of catecholamines makes a small contribution. Therefore, substances that increase endogenous catecholamine levels can result in borderline elevations of plasma metanephrines. These include:
• Monamine oxidase inhibitors (MOI’s – a class of anti-depressants with marked effects on catecholamine levels, particularly if the patient consumes tyrosine-rich foods such as nuts, bananas, or cheese)
• Catecholamine reuptake inhibitors including cocaine and synthetic cocaine derivatives such as many local anesthetics, some of which also are antiarrhythmic drugs (eg. licocaine)
• Some anesthetic gases, particularly halothane
• Withdrawal from sedative drugs, medicinal or recreational, in particular alcohol, benzodiazepines (eg. Valium), opioids, and some central acting antihypertensive drugs, particularly clonidine, but, generally no cannabis or other hallucinogens such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescal or peyote.
Mayo is not aware of any substances that interfere directly with the assay.
The observed elevations of plasma metanephrines are usually minor. Artifactually decreased plasma metanephrine levels may be observed when patients are already receiving metyrosine treatment. This drug may be administered in suspected or confirmed cases of pheochromocytoma while awaiting definitive treatment. It inhibits tyrosine hydroxylase, the enzyme that catalyzes the first step in catecholamine synthesis.