Cardiac troponins: 25 years on the stage and still improving their clinical value

Aitor Alquézar-Arbé, Alessandro Sionis, Jorge Ordoñez-Llanos

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7 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Twenty-five years ago, non-isotopic immunoassays for measuring the cardiac specific isoforms of troponin I (cTnI) and T (cTnT) were developed. Both biomarkers radically changed the diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy indication of acute coronary syndromes (ACS) and, particularly, of myocardial infarction (MI). However, cardiac troponins (cTn) rapidly demonstrated their usefulness in other cardiac and non-cardiac conditions, a part of the ischemic coronary diseases. Consequently, the number of patients to be tested for cTn and the number of tests requested to clinical laboratories sharply increased. Though the manufacturers continuously improved the analytical characteristics of the first cTn assays and produced different cTn assay “generations”, the universal definition of myocardial infarction required less-than-available analytical imprecision at the cTn concentration used to assess MI (i.e. the 99th reference percentile). To address the clinical requirements, manufacturers developed the high-sensitivity cTn (hs-cTn) assays that allow to measure the 99th reference percentile with adequate precision, to detect cTn in many healthy subjects and, hence, to calculate the hs-cTn biological variation and especially to observe in very short time intervals serial differences in hs-cTn attributable to cardiac ischemia. Since the number of patients attending the emergency departments (ED) for a suspected ACS or MI is increasing, the improved properties of hs-cTn assays, allowing faster and safer patient assessment, will help to alleviate the sometimes overcrowded EDs. However, there are many biological, analytical, and clinical factors that can influence the true hs-cTn values of a patient. Clinicians and laboratory professionals should know about them for the best interpretation of the otherwise largely useful hs-cTn measurements. In conclusion, 25 years after their introduction for clinical use, “cTn are still on the stage and improving their clinical value”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-571
JournalCritical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2017


  • acute coronary syndromes
  • Cardiac troponin
  • contemporary assays
  • high-sensitivity assays
  • myocardial infarction


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