Establishing a biochemical diagnosis of erythropoietic protoporphyria and X-linked dominant protoporphyria
This test is recommended for screening patients for possible erythropoietic protoporphyria and X-linked dominant protoporphyria. In addition, it can be used for evaluation of iron-deficiency anemia and chronic lead intoxication. Testing begins with total erythrocyte porphyrins. If the result is below 80 mcg/dL, it is normal and testing is complete.
If the total erythrocyte porphyrin value is 80 mcg/dL or above, the protoporphyrin fractionation assay will automatically be performed at an additional charge. The fractionation test results include noncomplexed (free) protoporphyrin and zinc-complexed protoporphyrin.
Alcohol suppresses enzyme activity potentially leading to false-positive results if it is ingested within 24 hours of specimen collection.
The porphyrias are a group of inherited disorders resulting from enzyme defects in the heme biosynthetic pathway. Depending on the specific enzyme involved, various porphyrins and their precursors accumulate in different specimen types. The patterns of porphyrin accumulation in erythrocytes and plasma and excretion of the heme precursors in urine and feces allow for the detection and differentiation of the porphyrias.
Testing erythrocyte porphyrin level is most informative for patients with a clinical suspicion of erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) or X-linked dominant protoporphyria (XLDPP). Clinical presentation of EPP and XLDPP is identical, with onset of symptoms typically occurring in childhood. Cutaneous photosensitivity in sun-exposed areas of the skin generally worsens in the spring and summer months. Common symptoms may include itching, edema, erythema, stinging or burning sensations, and occasionally scarring of the skin in sun-exposed areas. Although genetic in nature, environmental factors can exacerbate symptoms, significantly impacting the severity and course of disease.
EPP is caused by decreased ferrochelatase activity resulting in significantly increased noncomplexed (free) protoporphyrin levels in erythrocytes, plasma, and feces.
XLDPP is caused by gain-of-function variants in the C-terminal end of ALAS2 gene and results in elevated erythrocyte levels of free and zinc-complexed protoporphyrin, and total protoporphyrin levels in plasma and feces.
Protoporphyrin fractionation is the main component of erythrocyte porphyrins. When total erythrocyte porphyrins are elevated, fractionation and quantitation of zinc-complexed and free protoporphyrin is necessary to differentiate the inherited porphyrias from other causes of elevated porphyrin levels. Other possible causes of elevated erythrocyte zinc-complexed protoporphyrin may include:
-Iron-deficiency anemia, the most common cause
-Chronic intoxication by heavy metals (primarily lead) or various organic chemicals
-Congenital erythropoietic porphyria, a rare autosomal recessive porphyria caused by deficient uroporphyrinogen III synthase
-Hepatoerythropoietic porphyria, a rare autosomal recessive porphyria caused by deficient uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase
PORPHYRINS, TOTAL, RBC
Abnormal results are reported with a detailed interpretation that may include an overview of the results and their significance, a correlation to available clinical information provided with the specimen, differential diagnosis, and recommendations for additional testing when indicated and available.