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Crit Rev Toxicol. 1985;15(2):151-79.

Exposure to toxic agents: the heme biosynthetic pathway and hemoproteins as indicator.


The heme biosynthetic pathway is closely controlled by levels of the end product of the pathway, namely, heme, and porphyrins are normally formed in only trace amounts. When control mechanisms are disturbed by xenobiotics, porphyrins accumulate and serve as a signal of the interaction between a xenobiotic and the heme biosynthetic pathway. For example, an increase in erythrocyte protoporphyrin is a useful measurement for early detection of exposure to lead and porphyrinuria was an early manifestation of a hexachlorobenzene-induced porphyria in Turkey. In recent years a variety of additional xenobiotics has been shown to interact with the heme biosynthetic pathway, namely, halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, sulfides, and a variety of metals. Moreover, different xenobiotics (e.g., dihydropyridines and compounds containing unsaturated carbon-carbon bonds) interact with the prosthetic heme of cytochrome P-450 forming novel N-alkylporphyrins.

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