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Petrides, Petro E.; Klein, Michael; Schuhmann, Elfriede; Torkler, Heike; Molitor, Brigitte; Loehr, Christian; Obermeier, Zahra and Beykirch, Maria K. (2021): Severe homocysteinemia in two givosiran-treated porphyria patients: is free heme deficiency the culprit? In: Annals of Hematology, Vol. 100, No. 7: pp. 1685-1693

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Givosiran is a novel approach to treat patients with acute intermittent porphyrias (AIP) by silencing of partial differential -ALA-synthase 1, the first enzyme of heme biosynthesis in the liver. We included two patients in the Envision study who responded clinically well to this treatment. However, in both patients, therapy had to be discontinued because of severe adverse effects: One patient (A) developed local injection reactions which continued to spread all over her body with increasing number of injections and eventually caused a severe systemic allergic reaction. Patient B was hospitalized because of a fulminant pancreatitis. Searching for possible causes, we also measured the patients plasma homocysteine (Hcy) levels in fluoride-containing collection tubes: by LC-MS/MS unexpectedly, plasma Hcy levels were 100 and 200 in patient A and between 100 and 400 mu mol/l in patient B. Searching for germline mutations in 10 genes that are relevant for homocysteine metabolism only revealed hetero- and homozygous polymorphisms in the MTHFR gene. Alternatively, an acquired inhibition of cystathionine-beta-synthase which is important for homocysteine metabolism could explain the plasma homocysteine increase. This enzyme is heme-dependent: when we gave heme arginate to our patients, Hcy levels rapidly dropped. Hence, we conclude that inhibition of partial differential -ALA-synthase 1 by givosiran causes a drop of free heme in the hepatocyte and therefore the excessive increase of plasma homocysteine. Hyperhomocysteinemia may contribute to the adverse effects seen in givosiran-treated patients which may be due to protein-N-homocysteinylation.

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