Successful cord blood stem cell transplantation for congenital erythropoietic porphyria (Gunther's disease)

Bone Marrow Transplant. 1996 Jul;18(1):217-20.


Congenital erythropoietic porphyria (Gunther's disease, GD) is a rare autosomal recessive disease. It results from the deficiency of uroporphyrinogen III synthase, the fourth enzyme on the metabolic pathway of heme synthesis. GD leads to severe scarring of the face and hands as a result of photosensitivity and fragility of the skin due to uroporphyrin I and coproporphyrin I accumulation. It also causes erythrocyte fragility leading to haemolytic anaemia. The other clinical features include hirsutism, red discolouration of teeth, finger-nails and urine and stunted growth. The outcome is poor, and the disfiguring nature of GD may partly explain the legend of the werewolf. No curative treatment was known until 1991, when the first case of BMT in GD was reported. The clinical and biological outcome after transplantation was encouraging, with an important regression of the symptoms of the disease, but the child died of CMV-infection 11 months after BMT. We report the second case of GD treated successfully by stem cell transplantation using umbilical cord blood from an HLA-identical brother in a 4-year-old girl suffering from severe GD. Our patient is very well 10 months after transplantation. We confirm that stem cell transplantation is curative for GD.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Amniocentesis
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / cytology*
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Fetal Diseases / genetics
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Porphyria, Erythropoietic / diagnosis
  • Porphyria, Erythropoietic / genetics
  • Porphyria, Erythropoietic / surgery
  • Porphyria, Erythropoietic / therapy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Splenectomy
  • Transplantation Conditioning