In conjunction with, or as an alternative to first-order test in the differential diagnosis of isolated symptoms suggestive of carcinoid syndrome, in particular flushing (5-HIAA or serum chromogranin A measurements are first-line tests)
Second-order test in the follow-up of patients with known or treated carcinoid tumors in serum specimens
1. Patients should not eat avocados, bananas, butternuts, cantaloupe, dates, eggplant, grapefruit, hickory nuts, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, melon, nuts, pecans, pineapple, plantains, plums, tomatoes, or walnuts, which are high in serotonin for 48 hours before and during collection.
2. Patient should discontinue medications that may elevate urine serotonin concentration including lithium, monoamine oxidase-inhibitors, methyldopa, morphine, and reserpine. Patient should discontinue use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI; eg, PROZAC) that can lead to depletion of platelet serotonin levels and result in false-negative urine serotonin tests.
Since most circulating serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) is contained in platelets, the preferred specimens for measurement either include all or most of the platelets (ie, whole blood and platelet-rich plasma) or consist of serum from completely clotted specimens, a process that releases nearly all serotonin from platelets. "Ordinary" or platelet-poor plasma specimens are not suitable.
Medications that may elevate serotonin concentrations include lithium, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, methyldopa, morphine, and reserpine. The observed levels are usually less than 400 ng/mL. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI; eg, fluoxetine) can lead to depletion of platelet serotonin levels and result in false-negative serum and blood serotonin tests. The effects of drugs are more marked on urinary serotonin and 5 hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) levels than on blood and serum serotonin levels.
Serotonin- or tryptophan-rich foods (eg, avocados, bananas, plums, walnuts, pineapple, eggplant, plantain, tomatoes, hickory nuts, kiwi, dates, grapefruit, cantaloupe, and honeydew melon) do not contribute significantly to serum or blood 5-HT measurements but can elevate platelet-poor plasma serotonin, urinary serotonin, and urinary 5-HIAA levels markedly (up to 10-fold).