Test Catalog

Test ID: MOLPS    
Molybdenum, Serum

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

Monitoring of parenteral nutrition


Monitoring metallic prosthetic implant wear


As an indicator of molybdenum cofactor disease

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

Molybdenum is an essential trace element found in the daily diet. It is a cofactor for some enzymes important in nitrogen metabolism (aldehyde dehydrogenase, xanthine oxidase, NADH dehydrogenase). Due to the wide distribution of molybdenum in the environment and particularly in plant materials, molybdenum deficiency is rare in adults with normal, diverse diets. Typical molybdenum intake in most geographic locations is between 45 and 90 mcg/day. Urine is the primary source of excretion, though excesses are sometimes excreted by the biliary route.


Molybdenum deficiency associated with parenteral nutrition is indicated by symptoms such as stunted growth, reduced appetite, tachycardia, tachypnea, blindness and coma. These symptoms can be corrected by introducing molybdenum supplementation. Molybdenum cofactor disease is a severe genetic disorder that is due to defective mutations in the MOCS1, MOCS2, and GEPH genes.


Molybdenum toxicity is rare and usually related to molybdenum mining exposure; however, it has been observed in cases of intake above 400 mcg/day. Molybdenum interferes with copper uptake; molybdenum toxicity is predominantly due to copper deficiency (hypochromic anemia and neutropenia) and inhibition of xanthine oxidase (uric acid accumulation).


Serum molybdenum concentrations are likely to be increased above the reference range in patients with metallic joint prosthesis. Prosthetic devices produced by Depuy Company, Dow Corning, Howmedica, LCS, PCA, Osteonics, Richards Company, Tricon, and Whiteside, typically are made of chromium, cobalt, and molybdenum. This list of products is incomplete, and these products change occasionally; see prosthesis product information for each device for composition details.

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.

0.3-2.0 ng/mL

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Prosthesis wear is known to result in increased circulating concentrations of metal ions.(1 Serum concentrations above 10 ng/mL in a patient with molybdenum-based implant suggest significant prosthesis wear. Increased serum trace element concentrations in the absence of corroborating clinical information do not independently predict prosthesis wear or failure.


Serum molybdenum levels below 0.3 ng/mL indicate potential deficiency.


Increased serum molybdenum may be seen in acute viral hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, and other forms of liver inflammation.

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

No significant cautionary statements

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

1. Witzleb WC, Ziegler J, Krummenauer F, et al: Exposure to chromium, cobalt and molybdenum from metal-on-metal total hip replacement and hip resurfacing arthroplasty. Acta Orthop 2006;77(5):697-705

2. Third National Report on Exposure to Environmental Chemicals (NHANES). NCEH Publication 05-0570. Department of Human Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 2005

3. Shenkin A, Baines M, Fell GS, Lyon TDG: Vitamins and trace elements. In Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry and Molecular Diagnostics. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood, DA Bruns. Elsevier Saunders. St. Louis, 2006, p 1132

4. Yoshida M, O'ta S, Fukunaga K, Nishivama T: Serum molybdenum concentration in healthy Japanese adults determined by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. J Trace Elem Med Biol 2006;20(1):19-23

5. Reiss J, Johnson J: Mutations in the molybdenum cofactor biosynthetic genes MOCS1, MOCS2, and GEPH. Hum Mutat 2003;21(6):569-576

Special Instructions Library of PDFs including pertinent information and forms related to the test