Home About us Articles Multimedia Search Instructions Login 
IF 2017: 1.596 (® Clarivate Analytics)
Total Cites: 7606
Q2 in Medicine, General & Internal
Follow Us
Follow Us
  • Users Online: 832
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 130  |  Issue : 16  |  Page : 2011-2012

Sporadic Porphyria Cutanea Tarda Induced by Alcohol Abuse

1 Department of Dermatology, Beijing Tongren Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100730, China
2 Department of Clinical Administration, Beijing Tsinghua Changgung Hospital, Beijing 102218, China
3 Department of Dermatology, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Beijing 100730, China

Date of Web Publication1-Aug-2017

Correspondence Address:
Xiu-Min Yang
Department of Dermatology, Beijing Tongren Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing 100730
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0366-6999.211897

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Yang XM, Zhang Y, Wang T, Liu YH. Sporadic Porphyria Cutanea Tarda Induced by Alcohol Abuse. Chin Med J 2017;130:2011-2

How to cite this URL:
Yang XM, Zhang Y, Wang T, Liu YH. Sporadic Porphyria Cutanea Tarda Induced by Alcohol Abuse. Chin Med J [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 Jul 19];130:2011-2. Available from: http://www.cmj.org/text.asp?2017/130/16/2011/211897

Xiu-Min Yang and Yang Zhang contributed equally to this article.

To the Editor: A 50-year-old man presented with recurrent episodes of bullae, erosions, and crust on sun-exposed areas for 1 year. Lesions healed with scarring and hyperpigmentation. The skin lesions were aggravated after sun exposure. The patient had a 30-year alcohol abuse (100–200 ml/day) history. Family heredity history was unremarkable. Physical examination revealed multiple erosions with erythema, hyperpigmentation, bullae, and crusting on his face, neck, and dorsum of the hands [Figure 1]a. Mild hypertrichosis located over the temple. Dean symptom was positive. The results of blood tests were as follows: aspartate aminotransferase, 91 U/L; alanine aminotransferase, 66 U/L; gamma-glutamyl transferase, 447 U/L; zinc-protoporphyrin levels, 3.3 μg/gHb; uroporphyrin levels were elevated. Viral and autoimmune screening was negative. Urine color was turbid and presented pink fluorescence under Wood's lamp. No gene mutation was observed with uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase (UROD) gene analysis. Histopathological manifestation demonstrated crust and eosinophilic depositions around the blood vessels [Figure 1]b. Acid-fast staining showed cyclic blue-violet depositions around the blood vessels [Figure 1]c. A diagnosis of sporadic porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) was established. After treatments of compound glycyrrhizin for liver protection, sunscreen, and alcohol discontinuation for 3 months, there was obvious improvement on the patient's skin lesions. Laboratory analysis also showed an improvement; there was a reduction of zinc-protoporphyrin, 1.1 μg/gHb, alanine aminotransferase 46 U/L, and uroporphyrin became negative.
Figure 1: (a) Erythema, crusts and hyperpigmentations on the dorsum of hand. (b) Histopathological manifestation revealed crust and eosinophilic dispositions around the blood vessels (H and E, ×100). (c) Acid-fast staining (×200) showed cyclic blue-violet dispositions around the blood vessels.

Click here to view

PCT, the most common type of porphyria worldwide, is caused by the deficiency of the enzyme UROD, a crucial enzyme in heme biosynthesis, which results in an accumulation of photosensitive byproducts such as uroporphyrinogen which leads to the fragility and blistering of sun-exposed skin. Hypertrichosis, sclerodermoid plaques, and scarring alopecia might also be observed.[1],[2] The disease has been classified into three subtypes. Type I PCT has decreased hepatic UROD activity and is found in sporadic fashion without family history. Type II PCT is an autosomal dominant disorder with genetic mutations of the UROD gene causing a decreased UROD activity in all tissues. Type III PCT is similar to Type II with respect to familial occurrence, but erythrocyte UROD activity is normal.[1] The risk factors for PCT include iron overload, alcohol intake, smoking, estrogen use, chemical materials such as polychlorinated hydrocarbons, human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C infection, mutations in HFE gene, and various liver diseases.[3] There are several suggested mechanisms of the role of alcohol in PCT. Alcohol increases iron absorption resulting in iron accumulation in the liver, stimulates hepatic δ-aminolevulin-atesynthase (ALA) synthase and free radical production, and is independently hepatotoxic.[4] Similarly, there are materials which are hepatotoxic, such as hexachlorobenzene and dioxin that could also inhibit UROD activity and cause disease. Our patient had a history of having continuously ingested alcohol for 30 years and contact with the paint in the week before the onset of illness and he has impaired liver function. Therefore, we suggest that alcohol abuse and contact with the paint may have caused PCT in this patient. The activation of uroporphyrin deposited in the skin by ultraviolet light induces the production of oxidized reactive substances that excessively activate collagenase. The activated collagenase causes deposition of collagen in the skin which induces several skin manifestations that appear in the subepidermal region. In this case, mutations in the UROD gene were not detected. Although UROD gene mutation is not necessary for a diagnosis of PCT, its presence is important for differentiating between PCT Types I and II. In addition, the case has no family history of PCT. Therefore, this case is classified as PCT Type I. The therapy of liver protection, sunlight avoidance, and discontinuation of alcohol appears to be effective.

This disease is easy to be misdiagnosed. Spotting characteristic clues in the case history, careful examination of the body, and correlation of clinical symptoms with laboratory examination can help keep the misdiagnosis rate low.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form the patient(s) has/have given his/her/their consent for his/her/their images and other clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patients understand that their names and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal their identity, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Frank J, Poblete-Gutiérrez P. Porphyria cutanea tarda – When skin meets liver. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 2010;24:735-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2010.07.002.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sassa S. Modern diagnosis and management of the porphyrias. Br J Haematol 2006;135:281-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2006.06289.x.  Back to cited text no. 2
Tarwater K, Misra S, Misra M. Type I (sporadic) porphyria cutanea tarda in a hemodialysis patient: A case report. Hemodial Int 2008;12 Suppl 2:S38-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1542-4758.2008.00323.x.  Back to cited text no. 3
Bleasel NR, Varigos GA. Porphyria cutanea tarda. Aust J Dermatol 2000;41:197-208. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-0960.2000.00437.x.  Back to cited text no. 4


  [Figure 1]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  In this article
Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded75    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal