June 1989

Effects of Renal Clearance on Plasma Concentrations of Homovanillic AcidMethodologic Cautions

Author Affiliations

From the Section on Clinical Pharmacology, Laboratory of Clinical Science, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1989;46(6):558-562. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1989.01810060080012

• Recently, there has been considerable interest in plasma concentrations of homovanillic acid (HVA) in various psychiatric disorders. Homovanillic acid is a weak organic acid, and its excretion probably resembles that of other organic acids (eg, paminohippuric acid) that are actively secreted by the kidney. Alterations in renal plasma flow can affect clearance of organic acids, resulting in changes in plasma concentrations. In our study, concentrations of plasma HVA and urinary HVA (from 24hour urine collections) were measured in 20 prepubescent boys who received 3 weeks of placebo, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and fenfluramine hydrochloride in a randomized, double-blind, counterbalanced study of the treatment of attention-deficit disorder. Plasma HVA concentrations were significantly lower during fenfluramine treatment than during amphetamine treatment. This difference, however, seemed to be caused by alterations in renal clearance of HVA rather than changes in production. Whole-body production of HVA, as indexed by total urinary HVA excretion, was unaffected by the different treatments, while renal clearance of HVA did differ significantly between amphetamine and fenfluramine treatment. It seems that alterations in renal clearance can affect plasma HVA concentrations, which should be taken into account when plasma HVA is studied.