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J Lab Clin Med. 1992 Aug;120(2):272-81.

Quantitative determination of porphyrins in rat and human urine and evaluation of urinary porphyrin profiles during mercury and lead exposures.

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Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.


Measurement of urinary porphyrin excretion patterns (porphyrin profiles) is useful in the diagnosis and evaluation of diseases and disorders of porphyrin metabolism. However, experimental investigation of such disorders with rodent models has been hampered by the lack of an efficient procedure for the isolation and quantitative evaluation of porphyrins in rodent urine. This article describes an analytic procedure that overcomes the principal difficulties encountered with determination of porphyrins in rodent urine, including the loss of porphyrins during their isolation and interference of porphyrin fluorescence by contaminating materials. The procedure entails application of an acidified urine sample to a preconditioned C-18 preparatory column, preferential separation of essentially all potentially interfering contaminants by sequential phosphate-methanol elution, and selective isolation of porphyrins, which are then separated and quantitated by high-performance liquid chromatography and spectrofluorometric techniques. This method has been used to characterize urinary porphyrin excretion patterns in male rats and to define the distinctive changes in porphyrin profiles associated with prolonged exposure to porphyrinogenic metals. The porphyrin excretion patterns of male and female human subjects are also described. This method is applicable to the investigation of urinary porphyrin profile changes associated with exposure to a wide range of porphyrinogenic chemicals in both animals and human subjects.

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