Markers for Vulnerability in Acute Porphyria. A Hypothesis Paper
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Previously symptomatic and permanently asymptomatic carriers of a gene mutation for acute intermittent porphyria as well as matched controls were screened with regard to a series of variables of possible relevance to the development of porphyric symptoms. The basis for the study was a concept of acute porphyria as a condition of a permanent system overload of oxidative stress, with long term effects on hepatic and renal tissue, and with instances of periodic overload of free radicals giving
... radicals giving rise to acute neurologic involvement. Leukocyte concentrations of manganese, calcium, iron and zinc, as well as erythrocyte calcium differed between the groups, acute intermittent porphyria gene carriers, irrespective of previous porphyric illness, showing significantly higher levels than the controls. Manganese was found to be the most discriminative component of all the 78 variables investigated, accounting for about 98 per cent of the variance between the groups. An increment, by a factor of four, in cellular manganese is suggestive of an increase, in acute intermittent porphyria, of a manganese associated enzyme, e. g. glutamine synthetase, pyruvate carboxylase or mitochondrial Superoxide dismutase. The best fit into the model considered is provided by a theory focused on Superoxide dismutase, induced in response to Superoxide anion radical produced from aminolaevulinic acid. In porphyria gene carriers seemingly resistent to porphyric manifestations, an increase in potentially prooxidant cellular iron is matched by a proportional increment in manganese, i.e. presumably by a corresponding mitochondrial Superoxide dismutase induction. This mechanism is not operative in porphyric individuals prone to development of neuropsychiatric symptoms. In acute intermittent poiphyria with a history of porphyric illness there is a positive correlation between erythrocyte manganese and serum folate and a negative correlation between leukocyte ferrochelatase activity and serum cobalamin concentration. This may mirror a role of the cobalamin-folate system in the acute porphyric process.