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Metanephrine (metaadrenaline) are classified as catecholamines hormone molecules and they can be produced as a metabolite of adrenaline (epinephrine). These hormones are vital in the regulation of blood flow and pressure throughout the body during periods of physical and emotional stress. These metanephrine hormones are useful in detecting tumors such as pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas, since these tumors are found to be producing these hormones in excess. Assays that are currently being used to measure the presence of catecholamine-secreting tumors (pheochromocytomas or paragangliomas) include urine catecholamines, plasma catecholamines, urine metanephrines and plasma free metanephrines. All of these procedures have varying specificity and sensitivity.
Urine metanephrine assays are used to measure the total amount of metanephrines that is released into the urine in a 24 hour period. Due to the fact that the concentrations of this hormone may fluctuate significantly throughout the day, the urine test may be able to detect excess production that could have been missed using the blood test. The current guidelines recommends using either/or both urinary fractionated metanephrines and plasma free metanephrines for initial biochemical testing.