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February 28, 1948


JAMA. 1948;136(9):627-628. doi:10.1001/jama.1948.02890260035011

The porphyrins include many complex chemical compounds of fundamental importance in living organisms. Biologic substances that contain porphyrin derivatives include hemoglobin and similar respiratory pigments, the cytochromes, the enzyme catalase and chlorophyll in plants. Porphyrins occur in plant and animal tissues, including those of man. Coproporphyrin1 was first found in the feces of a now famous case of congenital porphyria, Petry, by Hans Fischer2 in 1915. Because the porphyrin was present almost entirely in feces, Fischer unfortunately called the substance "coproporphyrin." Subsequently, coproporphyrin was found in the urine in relatively large amounts in certain conditions. For the same reason, Fischer applied the name "uroporphyrin" to a porphyrin found in the urine in his case of congenital porphyria. Later work also demonstrated the presence of this porphyrin in the feces in a variety of conditions. Continuing his work on the porphyrins excreted in congenital porphyria, Fischer finally succeeded in