The Role for Metyrosine in the Treatment of Patients with Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

Lucinda M. Gruber, Sina Jasim, Allison Ducharme-Smith, Toby Weingarten, William F. Young, Irina Bancos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Context: Treatment of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PPGL) requires preintervention titration of alpha-and beta-adrenergic blockade, but patients may still be at risk for complications from catecholamine excess. Metyrosine decreases catecholamine production, making it an attractive therapeutic adjunct for select patients. Evidence Acquisition: A systematic literature review was performed (Ovid Medline and Scopus databases) on December 17, 2019, including studies with humans and original data. Studies with 10 or more patients on metyrosine for PPGL were included. Studies were screened for overlapping populations, and the most comprehensive study was included. The references of included studies were reviewed for additional data. Patient data from our institution between 2000 and 2015 were also reviewed. Evidence Synthesis: Metyrosine is well tolerated when used for a short course and can improve intraoperative outcomes in PPGL. Metyrosine should be considered when a difficult PPGL resection is expected (eg, pericardiac paraganglioma, abdominal paraganglioma with great vessel involvement), a large release of catecholamines is anticipated (eg, ablative therapy, chemotherapy), or when standard alpha-and beta-adrenergic blockade are not tolerated or cannot adequately control hypertension. Side effects are generally mild and self-limited, with sedation in a majority of patients. Extrapyramidal side effects are rare but can limit use of metyrosine. Because of its expense and limited availability, metyrosine use should be carefully planned and timed in relation to surgery. Conclusions: Metyrosine is a safe addition to traditional alpha-and beta-adrenergic blockade and should be considered in those patients with PPGL at high risk for acute release of catecholamines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2393-E2401
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • metyrosine
  • paraganglioma
  • pheochromocytoma
  • side effect
  • surgery
  • tyrosine hydroxylase inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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