TPNT - Clinical: Troponin T, Serum

Test Catalog

Test Name

Test ID: TPNT    
Troponin T, Serum

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Exclusion diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction


Monitoring acute coronary syndromes and estimating prognosis


Possible utility in monitoring patients with nonischemic causes of cardiac injury


Troponin T is the cardiac marker of choice for the Mayo Health System for the evaluation of patients with possible cardiovascular injury

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Troponin T is a myofibrillar protein found in striated musculature. There are 2 types of myofilament, a thick filament containing myosin and a thin filament consisting of 3 different proteins: actin, tropomyosin, and troponin. Troponin is itself a complex of 3 protein subunits: troponin T, troponin I, and troponin C. Troponin T binds the troponin complex to tropomyosin. Troponin I inhibits actomyosin ATPase in relation to the calcium concentration. Troponin C, with its 4 binding sites for calcium, mediates calcium dependency.


In the cytosol, troponin T is found in both free and protein-bound forms. The unbound (free) pool of troponin T is the source of the troponin T released in the early stages of myocardial damage. Bound troponin T is released from the structural elements at a later stage, corresponding with the degradation of myofibrils that occurs in irreversible myocardial damage. The most common cause of cardiac injury is myocardial ischemia, ie, acute myocardial infarction. Troponin T becomes elevated 2 to 4 hours after the onset of myocardial necrosis, and can remain elevated for up to 14 days.


Elevations in troponin T are also seen in patients with unstable angina. The finding of unstable angina and an elevated troponin T are known to have adverse short- and long-term prognoses, as well as a unique beneficial response to an invasive interventional strategy and treatment with the newer antiplatelet agents and low-molecular-weight heparin.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.

<0.01 ng/mL

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

The upper limit for normal individuals is less than 0.01 ng/mL (undetectable by this method).


For patients who present with acute coronary syndromes, troponin T values greater than or equal to 0.01 ng/mL that are rising make the diagnosis of cardiac injury. Decreasing values are indicative of recent cardiac injury.


Troponin T values greater than or equal to 0.01 ng/mL are a prognostic sign in patients with ischemic heart disease and most other situations. Clinical judgment is necessary to distinguish patients who have ischemic heart disease from those who do not. However, all patients with troponin T values of 0.01 ng/mL and higher are at increased risk for cardiac events relative to patients with undetectable troponin T.


Patients with low level (<0.20 ng/mL) elevations of troponin T and diagnostic uncertainty for acute coronary syndrome should be evaluated by repeat measurements at 3 and 6 hours including a delta between these time points to determine whether this is an acute or more chronic elevation.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

As with all markers of cardiac injury, elevations of troponin T do not in and of themselves indicate the presence of an ischemic mechanism. Many other disease states are associated with elevations of troponin T via mechanisms different from those that cause injury in patients with acute coronary syndromes. These include trauma (eg, contusion, ablation, or pacing), congestive heart failure, hypertension, hypotension (often with arrhythmias), pulmonary embolism, renal failure, and myocarditis.

Supportive Data

Various cutoffs have been proposed to identify patients with acute coronary syndromes and those at risk for future cardiac events. The cutoff used in earlier clinical studies (receiver operator curve cutoff) was around 0.10 ng/mL troponin T. This cutoff misses many patients at risk for short- or long-term adverse outcomes. The cutoff previously used at Mayo Clinic, 0.03 ng/mL, was based on the analytical performance of the existing methodology for troponin T, and was chosen to approximate the level that could be measured with less than 10% imprecision. More recent recommendations suggest that a level of troponin T that exceeds the 99th percentile of values found in a healthy population optimizes identification of patients at risk of cardiac events. Levels seen in the normal population are undetectable (<0.01 ng/mL) by the current troponin T assay.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

Jaffe AS: 2001-A biomarker odyssey. Clin Chim Acta 1999;284:197-211