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Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 1988 Nov;48(7):641-5.

Effect of nicotinic acid administration on serum levels of bilirubin and iron in patients with porphyria cutanea tarda.

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Istituto di Medicina Generale e Metodologia Clinica, I Facoltà di Medicina, University of Naples, Italy.


Nicotinic acid (NA) administration in Gilbert's syndrome (GS) patients promotes an increment of bilirubin and of total iron serum levels, dependent on a defective hepatic bilitranslocase function and on a haemolytic effect of NA. In porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT): (1) the effect of nicotinic acid on bilirubinaemia is superimposable to that in controls; (2) a well documented disturbance of iron metabolism occurs; (3) but relationship between bilirubin and iron under NA load has never been investigated. The administration of 5.9 mumol/kg body weight of NA to 12 PCT patients, 10 GS subjects and nine healthy volunteers of comparable age resulted in: (1) normal behaviour of bilirubin parameters in PCT but higher bilirubinaemic values in GS subjects; (2) normal values of serum iron in GS subjects, but higher baseline values and lower sideraemic effect of nicotinic acid in PCT patients; (3) a normal NA half-life in PCT and enhanced in GS subjects. These findings confirm a defective bilirubin uptake and excretion by the liver of GS subjects with a normal iron metabolism. On the contrary, in our PCT patients a normal clearance of bilirubin occurs, but a complex disturbance of iron metabolism is well evident in baseline conditions as well as after NA administration. The latter being probably the consequence of an enhanced excretion of iron extraproduced by the haemolytic effect of NA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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