Reproducibility of the measurement of plasma noradrenergic and dopaminergic metabolites in normal subjects

Neil J. Baker, Lawrence E. Adler, Merilyne Waldo, Greg Gerhardt, Carla Drebing, Bonnie Cox, Sandra Berry, Wayne Phillips, Robert Freedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The object of this study was to determine the reproducibility of the measurement of plasma catecholamine metabolites in normal control subjects and to assess the influence of factors such as time of day, diet, activity, blood pressure, and mood on the variance of these measures. Plasma free homovanillic acid (HVA), 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG), and vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) were simultaneously measured by high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection. Samples were collected from 15 doctors and nurses at 8 a.m. and at noon on 2 separate days. After the fasting 8 a.m. sample, the subjects ate a regular hospital breakfast. Activity in their usual tasks on an inpatient psychiatric unit was monitored electronically by an activity meter. Levels of each metabolite were not significantly different between days at the respective assay times and were highly correlated for individuals. MHPG showed a significant increase from morning to noon, while HVA showed a significant decrease. Activity, dietary intake of tyrosine and tyramine, blood pressure, pulse, scores on the Profile of Mood States, age, and sex were not related to plasma levels. The results demonstrate that measures of dopamine and norepinephrine metabolites have significant reliability in normal subjects in a setting used for research studies with psychiatric patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1988

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgment. This work was supported by the Veterans Administration Research Service and LJSPHS grants MH-38321, AAa3527, and RR-00051.


  • Plasma catecholamine metabolites
  • activity
  • diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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