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September 1971

Vitamin E and Porphyrin Metabolism in Man

Author Affiliations


From the Biochemistry Research Division, Department of Medicine, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Inc.; the Department of Medicine and the Alcoholism Research Unit, Baltimore City Hospitals; and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Arch Intern Med. 1971;128(3):411-415. doi:10.1001/archinte.1971.00310210087008

Four patients with symptoms of porphyria were treated with water soluble vitamin E. In all four patients, urinary excretion of δ-aminolevulinic acid, porphobilinogen, coproporphyrins, and uroporphyrins, which were initially elevated, decreased to normal levels following therapy. The initial vitamin E levels in whole blood which were lower than normal responded to treatment with the vitamin and paralleled clinical improvement. The effects of vitamin E on porphyrin metabolism were examined in a group of six male chronic alcoholic patients without clinical evidence of chronic liver disease. The coproporphyrinuria associated with alcoholism was found to be nonresponsive to vitamin E. Our observations indicate that the action of vitamin E in porphyria is probably not mediated through a reversal of the effects of any concurrent alcoholism.