Objectives: To describe the biochemical and clinical features in hereditary coproporphyria (HCP).
Design and method: Within the last 20 years, we investigated 53 patients (male:female = 1:2.5; age = 8-86 years) suffering from HCP. We describe the characteristic levels of urine, and fecal porphyrins and their precursors in hereditary coproporphyria and present the clinical features. Especially, we measured the coproporphyrin isomers I and III.
Results and conclusion: The group of hereditary coproporphyria patients exhibited a significantly higher (p<0.0001) excretion of urinary porphyrin precursors, delta-aminolevulinic acid (median = 84 micromol/24 h) and porphobilinogen (median = 39 micromol/24 h), as compared to controls (delta-aminolevulinic acid: 22 micromol/24 h, porphobilinogen: 3 micromol/24 h; median, n = 20). The median of coproporphyrin in urine (1315 nmol/24 h) and feces (1855 nmol/g) were enhanced 12- and 168-fold, as compared to healthy subjects (urinary coproporphyrin: 106 nmol/24 h, fecal coproporphyrin: 11 nmol/g; median, n = 20). During therapy on one female patient, with IV application of heme arginate, a considerable decline of porphyrin precursors and porphyrin excretion was observed. The examination of urinary and fecal coproporphyrin isomers I and III revealed an excessive elevation of the coproporphyrin isomer III of 87% in urine and 94% in feces, respectively (normal: urinary isomer III = 69-83% and fecal isomer III = 25-40%). In feces the increase of isomer III caused an inversion of the physiologic coproporphyrin isomer III:I ratio that could be recognized in all various stages in hereditary coproporphyria and in children. Acute attacks of hereditary coproporphyria are accompanied by an acute polysymptomatic clinical syndrome, and this is associated with high levels of urinary porphyrin precursors. On review of our patients, the highest percentage had abdominal pain (89%), followed by neurologic (33%), psychiatric (28%), cardiovascular (25%), and skin symptoms (14%).