Alternative names
Delta-aminolevulinic acid

This test is designed to measure the amount of delta-ALA in urine.

How the test is performed
The health care provider will instruct you, if necessary, to discontinue drugs that may interfere with the test. A 24-hour urine sample is needed.

  • On day 1, urinate into the toilet when you get up in the morning.  
  • Collect all subsequent urine (in the provided container) for the next 24-hours.  
  • On day 2, urinate into the same container when you get up in the morning.  
  • Cap the container. Keep it in the refrigerator or a cool place during the collection period. Label the container with your name, the date, the time you last urinated, and return it as instructed. Infant: Thoroughly wash and rinse the area between the lips of the vagina or the head of the penis. Open the Urine collection bag (the plastic bag with an adhesive paper on one end), and place it on your infant. For males, the entire penis can be placed in the bag and the adhesive attached to the skin. For females, the bag is placed over the lips of the vagina. Place a diaper over the infant (bag and all). The infant should be checked frequently and the bag changed after the infant has urinated into the bag. For active infants, this procedure may take a couple of attempts. Lively infants can displace the bag, causing an inability to obtain the specimen. Drain the urine into the container for transport to the laboratory. As with adults, the container must be kept refrigerated. Deliver it to the laboratory or your health care provider as soon as possible upon completion. Avoid exposure of the urine to direct light. How to prepare for the test No special preparation is necessary for this test, but if the collection is being taken from an infant, a couple of extra collection bags may be necessary. How the test will feel The test involves only normal urination and there is no discomfort. Why the test is performed This test is useful in detecting the amount of Delta-ALA in the urine. Delta-ALA, a protein produced by the liver, is increased when another protein (an enzyme), has reduced function. This may lead to a type of metabolic disorder called Porphyria. Normal Values 1 to 7 mg per 24-hours Note: mg = milligrams What abnormal results mean Increased levels of urinary delta-ALA may indicate:
    • Lead poisoning  
    • Porphyria (several types) Decreased levels may occur with chronic liver disease. What the risks are There are no risks. Special considerations Drugs that may interfere with test measurements include penicillin, barbiturates, oral contraceptives, and griseofulvin, an anti-fungal medication.

      Johns Hopkins patient information

      Last revised: December 6, 2012
      by Simon D. Mitin, M.D.

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