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Vogeser, Michael; Jacob, Karl and Zachoval, Reinhart (1999): Urinary porphyrin excretion in hepatitis C infection. In: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, Vol. 37, No. 8: pp. 799-804 [PDF, 81kB]

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A high prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in porphyria cutanea tarda in some populations suggests a close link between viral hepatitis and alteration of porphyrin metabolism. Moreover, there is evidence of a role of porphyrinopathies in hepatocarcinogenesis. The aim of our study was to obtain data on the prevalence and patterns of heme metabolism alterations in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Urinary porphyrin excretion was prospectively studied in 100 consecutive outpatients with chronic hepatitis C infection without signs of photosensitivity, using an ion-pair high performance liquid chromatography method. Increased total porphyrin excretion was found in 41 patients, with predominant excretion of coproporphyrins (whole study group: mean 146 mu g/g creatinine, interquartile range 76-186; normal <150), in 10 patients excretion exceeded 300 mu g/g creatinine. In the majority of all patients studied (75/100) an increased ratio of the relatively hydrophobic coproporphyrin isomer I to isomer III was found. In just one case, urinary porphyrin pattern characteristic for chronic hepatic porphyria was present (uroporphyrin > coproporphyrin, heptacarboxyporphyrin III increased) but the total porphyrin excretion was only slightly elevated in this case. In the whole group, total urinary porphyrin excretion correlated well with serum bilirubin and was inversely correlated with albumin and thrombin time. In conclusion, secondary coproporphyrinuria occurs frequently in heptatitis C infection, whereas in Germany, preclinical porphyria cutanea tarda seems to be rare in these patients.

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