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Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria Workup

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

Laboratory Studies

Porphyrin analyses

Urinary porphyrin concentrations are increased 100-1000 times and involve predominantly uroporphyrin I. Urinary excretion of uroporphyrin III and coproporphyrin III is also elevated; however, the level is less than that of the isomer I porphyrins.

Urinary delta-aminolevulinic acid and porphobilinogen levels are not increased in erythropoietic porphyria.

Erythrocytes most often contain increased levels of uroporphyrin I; also, elevated zinc protoporphyrin is observed in some patients.

The combination of elevated urinary and erythrocyte isomer I porphyrin levels is specific for erythropoietic porphyria.

Coproporphyrin preferentially accumulates as fecal porphyrin after the decarboxylation of uroporphyrin.

Complete blood cell count

Excessive uroporphyrins in red blood cells appear to cause fragility; therefore, a hemolytic anemia is common. Consequent splenomegaly and hepatomegaly are observed.

A test to measure uroporphyrinogen III synthase activity is commercially available.

Mutation analysis of the uroporphyrinogen III synthase gene (ie, DNA testing) is performed at porphyria research units in several countries and has become commercially available in the United States. See the American Porphyria Foundation for further information.

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Other Tests

Fluorescence microscopy of peripheral blood or bone marrow specimens. Red porphyrin fluorescence in intact erythrocytes and erythroid precursor cells can be observed in smears of bone marrow specimens illuminated by violet or blue light against a dark-field background. The brilliant fluorescence of nuclei in erythrocyte precursor cells is specific for erythropoietic porphyria.

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Histologic Findings

Similar dermatopathologic changes can be found in all types of porphyria with photocutaneous manifestations. The characteristic feature is a subepidermal blister with a slight superficial perivascular lymphocytic infiltrate. Blood vessels in the superficial vascular plexus have markedly thickened, hyalinized walls that contain periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)–positive, diastase-resistant glycoproteins. Papillary dermal tips often festoon into the blister cavity due to the increased rigidity of the hyalinized vessel walls.

Caterpillar bodies, which are eosinophilic linear structures in the roofs of bullae composed of basement membrane material, are described in blisters of patients with several forms of porphyria. Direct immunofluorescence tests reveal linear C3 and immunoglobulin G staining around the superficial vessels and along the dermoepidermal junction.[5]

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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
  1. Katugampola RP, Badminton MN, Finlay AY, Whatley S, Woolf J, Mason N. Congenital erythropoietic porphyria: a single-observer clinical study of 29 cases. Br J Dermatol. 2012 Oct. 167(4):901-13. [Medline].

  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].

  5. Egbert BM, LeBoit PE, McCalmont T, Hu CH, Austin C. Caterpillar bodies: distinctive, basement membrane-containing structures in blisters of porphyria. Am J Dermatopathol. 1993 Jun. 15(3):199-202. [Medline].

  6. Wenner C, Neumann NJ, Frank J. [Congenital erythropoietic porphyria : An update]. Hautarzt. 2015 Dec 2. [Medline].

  7. Mathews-Roth MM. Treatment of the cutaneous porphyrias. Clin Dermatol. 1998 Mar-Apr. 16(2):295-8. [Medline].

  8. Katugampola RP, Anstey AV, Finlay AY, et al. A management algorithm for congenital erythropoietic porphyria derived from a study of 29 cases. Br J Dermatol. 2012 Oct. 167(4):888-900. [Medline].

  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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