Porphyria in Sweden

Physiol Res. 2006:55 Suppl 2:S109-118. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.930000.55.S2.109.


In a brief survey the work of Swedish porphyrinologists through time is presented, from the organic chemist Jakob Berzelius 1840 to the molecular biologists of today. The building up in Stockholm of a Swedish national competence centre for porphyria is touched upon and the emergence of a computerized national register on the porphyria gene carriers in the country described. Figures for the prevalences of the seven different forms of porphyria diagnosed in Sweden are given. The geographical distribution of gene mutation spectra is shown for the most frequent form, acute intermittent porphyria. The organisation at Porphyria Centre Sweden of its diagnostic and consultative services is described, as is the decentralized model for porphyria care applied in the form of a clinical network covering the long and sparsely populated country. The ideas and activities of the Swedish Porphyria Patients' Association are presented. Its focus on protection-by-information of the porphyria gene carrier against maltreatment in health service contacts, and against other exposures to environmental threats to his or her health, is discussed. The combined efforts of the national porphyria centre and the patients' association have resulted in early and accurate diagnosis of most of the porphyria gene carriers in the country. The information to the carriers and to the health service regarding the mechanisms of the diseases and the importance of avoiding exposure to disease triggering environmental factors have greatly reduced porphyric morbidity. In the case of the acute porphyrias, by this programme and after the introduction of heme arginate in the therapy, mortality in the acute phase has become extremely rare in Sweden. In contrast, probably due to greater awareness of the high risk for liver cancer in acute porphyrias the number of hepatoma cases diagnosed has increased. The current research activities at the Porphyria Centre which aim at finding ways to substitute the mutated gene in acute intermittent porphyria for an undamaged one, or to substitute the enzyme deficiency by administration of exogenously produced enzyme, are mentioned, as is the work to establish a reliable drug porphyrinogenicity prediction model for evidence based drug counselling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Porphyrias / diagnosis
  • Porphyrias / epidemiology*
  • Porphyrias / genetics
  • Prevalence
  • Sweden