Clinical and biochemical characteristics and genotype-phenotype correlation in Finnish variegate porphyria patients

Eur J Hum Genet. 2002 Oct;10(10):649-57. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejhg.5200860.


Variegate porphyria (VP) is an inherited metabolic disease resulting from the partial deficiency of protoporphyrinogen oxidase, the penultimate enzyme in the heme biosynthetic pathway. We have evaluated the clinical and biochemical outcome of 103 Finnish VP patients diagnosed between 1966 and 2001. Fifty-two per cent of patients had experienced clinical symptoms: 40% had photosensitivity, 27% acute attacks and 14% both manifestations. The proportion of patients with acute attacks has decreased dramatically from 38 to 14% in patients diagnosed before and after 1980, whereas the prevalence of skin symptoms had decreased only subtly from 45 to 34%. We have studied the correlation between PPOX genotype and clinical outcome of 90 patients with the three most common Finnish mutations I12T, R152C and 338G-->C. The patients with the I12T mutation experienced no photosensitivity and acute attacks were rare (8%). Therefore, the occurrence of photosensitivity was lower in the I12T group compared to the R152C group (P=0.001), whereas no significant differences between the R152C and 338G-->C groups could be observed. Biochemical abnormalities were significantly milder suggesting a milder form of the disease in patients with the I12T mutation. In all VP patients, normal excretion of protoporphyrin in faeces in adulthood predicted freedom from both skin symptoms and acute attacks. The most valuable test predicting an increased risk of symptoms was urinary coproporphyrin, but only a substantially increased excretion exceeding 1,000 nmol/day was associated with an increased risk of both skin symptoms and acute attacks. All patients with an excretion of more than 1,000 nmol/day experienced either skin symptoms, acute attacks, or both.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coproporphyrins / metabolism
  • Coproporphyrins / urine
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Flavoproteins
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors*
  • Phenotype
  • Porphyrias, Hepatic / genetics*
  • Porphyrias, Hepatic / metabolism
  • Protoporphyrinogen Oxidase
  • Protoporphyrins / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Uroporphyrins / urine


  • Coproporphyrins
  • Flavoproteins
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Protoporphyrins
  • Uroporphyrins
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors
  • PPOX protein, human
  • Protoporphyrinogen Oxidase