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Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria

  • Author: Jeanette L Hebel, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
 
Updated: Mar 04, 2016
 

Background

Erythropoietic porphyria (EP) is a rare inborn error of porphyrin-heme synthesis inherited that is as an autosomal recessive trait. The inheritance of 2 mutant alleles for the gene encoding the enzyme uroporphyrinogen III synthase leads to accumulation of porphyrins of the isomer I type that are biologically useless but cause cutaneous photosensitivity characterized by blisters, erosions, and scarring of light-exposed skin.

Clinical manifestations can range from mild to severe. Chronic damage of skin, cartilage, and bones can cause mutilation. Hypertrichosis, erythrodontia, and reddish-colored urine are often present. Hemolytic anemia can be mild or severe, with resultant splenomegaly and osseous fragility.

The following is a selection of other porphyria-related articles:

Also see the figure below.

Clinical classification of porphyrias. Clinical classification of porphyrias.
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Pathophysiology

Erythropoietic porphyria is primarily a disorder of bone marrow heme synthesis. Deficient activity of the enzyme uroporphyrinogen III synthase in erythrocyte precursor cells causes a shift of the pathway away from the isomer III porphyrinogen production that can effect the end-product heme; isomer I porphyrinogens that cannot be used to form heme may be overproduced. The accumulated isomer I porphyrinogens are spontaneously oxidized to their corresponding porphyrins, which are water-soluble photosensitizers with a reddish hue.

These porphyrins are released from the maturing erythrocytes into the plasma and are excreted by renal mechanisms; urine with a port-wine color is produced. The interaction of excess porphyrins in the skin and light radiation causes photoxidative damage of biomolecular targets that is manifested as mechanical fragility and blistering that may result in severe scarring.

The hemolytic anemia of erythropoietic porphyria can cause hypersplenism in more serious cases. Hypertrophy of the bone marrow in such cases can lead to osseous fragility and pathologic fractures. Acral osteolysis and onycholysis may occur; bones and teeth are stained red by the deposition of porphyrin pigment. Ocular damage can lead to blindness. The photoactive nature of porphyrin molecules results in the bright pink fluorescence of these pigments in urine, teeth, and bones under Wood light illumination.

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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

A porphyria registry has only recently been established in the United States (American Porphyria Foundation); therefore, accurate figures are not yet available. Erythropoietic porphyria is rare; only several hundred cases have been reported worldwide.

International

Erythropoietic porphyria is reported in diverse populations. Only several hundred cases have been reported worldwide.

Race

No racial predilection is reported for erythropoietic porphyria.

Sex

Erythropoietic porphyria occurs in both males and females with approximately equal frequencies.

Age

Erythropoietic porphyria typically occurs in infants or young children; however, several adult-onset cases are reported.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Jeanette L Hebel, MD Dermatologist, Dermatology Associates of Lancaster; Dermatologist, Department of Dermatology, Lancaster General Hospital

Jeanette L Hebel, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Mohs Surgery

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Maureen B Poh-Fitzpatrick, MD Professor Emerita of Dermatology and Special Lecturer, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Maureen B Poh-Fitzpatrick, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, New York Academy of Medicine, New York Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

David F Butler, MD Section Chief of Dermatology, Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System; Professor of Dermatology, Texas A&M University College of Medicine; Founding Chair, Department of Dermatology, Scott and White Clinic

David F Butler, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Medical Association, Alpha Omega Alpha, Association of Military Dermatologists, American Academy of Dermatology, American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, American Society for MOHS Surgery, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Christen M Mowad, MD Professor, Department of Dermatology, Geisinger Medical Center

Christen M Mowad, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, Noah Worcester Dermatological Society, Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology, American Academy of Dermatology, Phi Beta Kappa

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Maureen B Poh-Fitzpatrick, MD Professor Emerita of Dermatology and Special Lecturer, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons

Maureen B Poh-Fitzpatrick, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, New York Academy of Medicine, New York Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
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  2. Hillenkamp J, Reinhard T, Fritsch C, Kersten A, Böcking A, Sundmacher R. Ocular involvement in congenital erytropoietic porphyria (Günther's disease): cytopathological evaluation of conjunctival and corneal changes. Br J Ophthalmol. 2001 Mar. 85(3):371. [Medline].

  3. Berry AA, Desnick RJ, Astrin KH, Shabbeer J, Lucky AW, Lim HW. Two brothers with mild congenital erythropoietic porphyria due to a novel genotype. Arch Dermatol. 2005 Dec. 141(12):1575-9. [Medline].

  4. Phillips JD, Steensma DP, Pulsipher MA, Spangrude GJ, Kushner JP. Congenital erythropoietic porphyria due to a mutation in GATA1: the first trans-acting mutation causative for a human porphyria. Blood. 2007 Mar 15. 109(6):2618-21. [Medline].

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  9. Desnick RJ, Astrin KH. Congenital erythropoietic porphyria: advances in pathogenesis and treatment. Br J Haematol. 2002 Jun. 117(4):779-95. [Medline].

  10. Kauffman L, Evans DI, Stevens RF, Weinkove C. Bone-marrow transplantation for congenital erythropoietic porphyria. Lancet. 1991 Jun 22. 337(8756):1510-1. [Medline].

  11. Tezcan I, Xu W, Gurgey A, Tuncer M, Cetin M, Oner C, et al. Congenital erythropoietic porphyria successfully treated by allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. Blood. 1998 Dec 1. 92(11):4053-8. [Medline].

  12. Karakurt N, Tavil B, Azik F, Tunc B, Karakas Z, Uckan-Cetinkaya D. Successful hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in a child with congenital erythropoietic porphyria due to a mutation in GATA-1. Pediatr Transplant. 2015 Nov. 19 (7):803-5. [Medline].

  13. Harada FA, Shwayder TA, Desnick RJ, Lim HW. Treatment of severe congenital erythropoietic porphyria by bone marrow transplantation. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001 Aug. 45(2):279-82. [Medline].

  14. Poh-Fitzpatrick MB. Clinical features of the porphyrias. Clin Dermatol. 1998 Mar-Apr. 16(2):251-64. [Medline].

  15. Poh-Fitzpatrick MB. The porphyrias. Arndt KA, Robinson JK, Leboit PE, Wintroub BU, eds. Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery: An Integrated Program in Dermatology. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders; 1996. Vol 2: 1753-62.

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Clinical classification of porphyrias.
 
 
 
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