Troponin is a crucial biomarker for the diagnosis of an acute coronary syndrome (ACS). It rises in response to myocardial injury from significant acute myocardial ischaemia caused by obstructive coronary artery disease [‘classical’ myocardial infarction (MI)]. However, raised levels have also been noted in conditions not recognized as classical ACS. This may include MI with non-obstructed coronary arteries such as takotsubo cardiomyopathy and other acute or chronic conditions such as pulmonary embolus or chronic kidney disease. This is commonly labelled as a ‘falsely elevated’ troponin although there is some myocardial strain to explain the rise, such as an increase in cardiac oxygen demand. True ‘falsely elevated’ troponin, characterized by a persistent elevation in the absence of cardiac injury does occur and thought to be secondary to an immunoglobulin-troponin complex (macrotroponin).
A 53-year-old gentleman with a background of diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, and hepatitis B was admitted with chest pain and persistently elevated cardiac troponin T (cTnT) levels. Investigations revealed unobstructed coronary arteries and a structurally normal, well-functioning heart. Subsequent biochemical analysis found the persistently elevated cTnT secondary to macrotroponin T.
Macrotroponin, an immunoglobulin-troponin bound complex should be considered as a differential diagnosis when the biochemistry is not reflective of the clinical picture. Early recognition requires effective collaboration with the biochemistry laboratory for accurate diagnosis.