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September 1977

Beta Carotene Therapy for Erythropoietic Protoporphyria and Other Photosensitivity Diseases

Author Affiliations

From the Channing Laboratory and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Department of Medical Microbiology, Boston City Hospital (Drs Mathews-Roth and Kass), and the Photobiology Unit, Dermatology Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School (Drs Pathak and Fitzpatrick), Boston, and the Department of Dermatology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York (Dr Harber).

Arch Dermatol. 1977;113(9):1229-1232. doi:10.1001/archderm.1977.01640090077011

• We treated with high doses of oral beta carotene (Solatene) (15 to 180 mg/ day) 133 patients suffering from erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP), 27 patients with polymorphous light eruption, six patients with solar urticaria, three patients with hydroa aestivale, one patient with porphyria cutanea tarda, and two patients with actinic reticuloid to relieve the photosensitivity associated with these diseases. Eighty-four percent of the patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria increased by a factor of 3 or more their ability to tolerate sunlight. On the other hand, only nine of the patients with polymorphous light eruption, and one fifth of the patients with all of the other forms of photosensitivity treated showed similar improvement.

We conclude that beta carotene is an effective treatment for EPP, but that other forms of photosensitivity will need empirical therapeutic study with beta carotene to determine the range of effectiveness, if any, of this compound in conditions other than EPP.

(Arch Dermatol 113:1229-1232, 1977