Methylmalonic acid blood test

What is a Methylmalonic Acid Blood Test?

A methylmalonic acid (MMA) blood test is a laboratory test used to detect abnormally high levels of methylmalonic acid in the blood. MMA is a naturally occurring metabolic molecule found in the cells of the body, and too much MMA in the blood can indicate a problem with the health of the cellulary metabolism.

Types of Methylmalonic Acid Blood Test

There are two types of MMA blood tests used in clinical settings:

  • MMA Test: This type of blood test measures the concentration of methylmalonic acid in the blood.
  • Total MMA: This type of test measures both the amount of free methylmalonic acid and the amount of methylmalonate bound to other molecules in the blood.

Why is the Methylmalonic Acid Test Performed?

The MMA test is usually ordered by a healthcare provider when a person is experiencing symptoms that could indicate a problem with their body's cellular metabolism. People with certain metabolic conditions, such as vitamin B12 deficiency or renal tubular acidosis, may be more likely to have their MMA levels checked.

When is a Methylmalonic Acid Test Done?

The timing of the MMA test depends on the reason for the test. The healthcare provider may order several series of tests over a period of time to monitor a person's methylmalonic acid levels. Other tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) or serum electrolyte concentration tests, may be conducted at the same time to evaluate other aspects of a person's health.

Preparation for the Methylmalonic Acid Test

For the most accurate results, it is important to prepare for the MMA test. This includes fasting (not eating or drinking anything other than water) for 8-12 hours prior to the test and stopping all medications and supplements for 24 hours before the test.

Procedure for the Methylmalonic Acid Test

The procedure for the MMA test is simple. A healthcare provider takes a blood sample from a vein in the arm or hand, typically using a small needle. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Risks of the Methylmalonic Acid Test

The risks associated with taking a blood sample are minimal. The most common side-effect is bruising or slight bleeding from the small needle prick. Severe complications are rare but may include infection, excessive bleeding, or an allergic reaction to the needle or antiseptic.