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Tryptase Blood Test

Last updated July 23, 2019

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Tryptase Blood Test is a test that assesses the levels of tryptase in circulation. It is performed in cases of a mysterious anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic response.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Alpha Tryptase Blood Test
  • Beta Tryptase Blood Test
  • Mature Tryptase Blood Test

What is Tryptase Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Mast cells are the body’s principal allergic response cells. They secrete a variety of compounds that stimulate the familiar redness, congestion, and airway constriction that accompany an allergic reaction. Among these compounds is histamine and tryptase
  • Tryptase is an enzyme secreted by mast cells as part of an immune response. Similar to the digestive enzyme trypsin, tryptase is also a protease, because it breaks down proteins into their amino acid constituents
  • There are 2 kinds of tryptase: alpha tryptase and beta tryptase. Beta tryptase is the predominant form secreted by mast cells. Like trypsin, tryptase is initially created in its inactive, or zymogen, form. Only after activation does tryptase become a protease (enzyme that breaks down proteins)
  • The Tryptase Blood Test is a test that assesses the levels of tryptase in circulation. It is performed in cases of a mysterious anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic response

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Tryptase Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing a Tryptase Blood Test:

  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, and/or eyes
  • Altered mental status, including dizziness, confusion, and unconsciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin abnormalities, such as discoloration, hives, and itching
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

How is the Specimen Collected for Tryptase Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Tryptase Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of a needle into an arm vein.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Tryptase Blood Test Result?

Increased tryptase levels may indicate:

  • Mastocytosis
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Asthma
  • Bone marrow disorder

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • The Tryptase Blood Test is a rare blood test that is only performed in certain specialized laboratories
  • The Total Tryptase Blood Test measures the combined amounts of alpha and beta tryptase in blood

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 9, 2014
Last updated: July 23, 2019