Hong Kong Med J 2003;9:119-21 | Number 2, April 2003
Macroprolactin—a cause of pseudohyperprolactinaemia
YP Yuen, JPS Lai, KM Au, AYW Chan, TWL Mak
Department of Pathology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Laichikok, Hong Kong
Macroprolactin is a complex of immunoglobulin G and monomeric prolactin with little biological activity in vivo. Macroprolactin cross-reacts in modern commercial prolactin assays, however, leading to pseudohyperprolactinaemia. This report is of three patients with macroprolactinaemia and the untoward consequences if this benign condition is misdiagnosed as genuine hyperprolactinaemia are discussed. One adult and one child without symptoms of hyperprolactinaemia were incidentally found to have elevated serum prolactin levels, one of whom had a pituitary incidentaloma. Repeat prolactin measurement after polyethylene glycol precipitation showed that the majority of circulating prolactin was macroprolactin. The third patient had galactorrhoea and pituitary microadenoma. Polyethylene glycol study showed that macroprolactinaemia exists simultaneously with genuine hyperprolactinaemia leading to falsely high serum prolactin levels. The recognition of this relatively common and benign condition is important in order to avoid misdiagnosis and unnecessary investigations and treatment. Particular attention must be paid to patients in whom the clinical and radiological findings are incompatible.
Key words: Hyperprolactinemia; Immunoassay; Polyethylene glycol; Prolactin
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