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March 20, 1937


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Neurology-Psychiatry, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

JAMA. 1937;108(12):969-970. doi:10.1001/jama.1937.92780120001011

This report of a case of multiple neuritis is of interest because it represents a danger in the use of hematoporphyrin hydrochloride (photodyn) in the treatment of psychotic depressions.

Huhnerfeld1 found that injections of hematoporphyrin in animals increased their total motor activity. As a result of this experiment he used this agent in the treatment of psychotic depressions, with eleven improvements in thirteen cases. Since this report others have appeared, and Angus2 has summarized these reports collectively and found that, of 113 depressions, fifty-seven were much benefited by this therapy. No satisfactory explanation of the mechanism by which this agent operates has been educed from these investigations, and its use rests largely on an empirical basis.

In the time intervening between Huhnerfeld's report and the present, hematoporphyrin hydrochloride has come to be used extensively in the hands both of the specialist and of the general