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Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2000 Nov;60(7):581-604.

Porphyrins, porphyrin metabolism and porphyrias. IV. Pathophysiology of erythyropoietic protoporphyria--diagnosis, care and monitoring of the patient.

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Porphyria Centre Sweden, CMMS, Huddinge University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.


An extremely painful cutaneous condition with no or only slight visible skin changes, presenting in a child or an adult as an acute reaction to sun light, is probably a manifestation of the porphyrin metabolic disorder erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP). The disease is the result of a genetically determined condition where a mutation in the gene for the final enzyme in the haem synthetic chain, ferrochelatase, results in impaired activity of the enzyme. In some predisposed individuals, the condition is accompanied by heavy accumulation of the substrate for the deficient enzyme, i.e. of protoporphyrin. Distributing to the skin, and there absorbing light of certain wavelengths, the metabolite generates free radicals that give rise to photodynamic cell injury. The primary event takes place in the endothelial cells of the superficial skin capillaries, but complement activation and mast cell degranulation in the surrounding tissue follow in the process. Even if the disease is primarily dermatological the hepatic and psychosocial complications are features requiring close attention by the physician. In order to provide a basis for suggestions regarding lege artis protocols for the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of the patient with EPP, the pathophysiology of the cutaneous and hepatic manifestations are discussed in some detail in the article.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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