Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Information and Resources

Font Size
A
A
A

Porphyria

Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Porphyria is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • Acute Intermittent Porphyria
  • Variegate Porphyria
  • Hereditary Coproporphyria
  • Protoporphyria
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda
  • Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria
  • ALA-D Porphyria

General Discussion

Porphyria is a group of at least eight metabolic disorders that arise as a result of a malfunction in one of the eight steps in the body's synthesis of a complex molecule called heme. Heme is essential for the transport of oxygen to cells in the body. If any step in the synthesis of heme is blocked, an intermediate chemical accumulates in the cell, resulting in oxygen depletion. Those intermediate chemicals, known as porphyrins or porphyrin precursors, are the substances of which heme is composed.

There are two general categories of porphyrias, those that affect the skin and those that affect the nervous system. The former are called cutaneous porphyrias. The latter are called acute porphyrias. Because the symptoms of the various porphyrias may resemble symptoms of other disorders, diagnosis may be difficult.

Each type of porphyria represents a deficiency of a specific enzyme needed for the synthesis of heme. Treatment is specific to the type of porphyria. The porphyrias are inherited conditions, but don't all follow the same mode of inheritance.

Resources

American Porphyria Foundation
4900 Woodway, Suite 780
Houston, TX 77056-1837
Tel: (713)266-9617
Fax: (713)840-9552
Tel: (866)273-3635
Email: porphyrus@aol.com
Internet: http://www.porphyriafoundation.com

NIH/National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive & Kidney Diseases
Office of Communications & Public Liaison
Bldg 31, Rm 9A06
31 Center Drive, MSC 2560
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
Tel: (301)496-3583
Email: NDDIC@info.niddk.nih.gov
Internet: http://www2.niddk.nih.gov/

Belgian Association for Metabolic Diseases
Alice Nahonlann 7
Melsele, 9120
Belgium
Tel: 0498701503
Fax: 037754839
Email: info@boks.be
Internet: http://www.boks.be/site/index.php/

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
TDD: (888)205-3223
Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

Madisons Foundation
PO Box 241956
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tel: (310)264-0826
Fax: (310)264-4766
Email: getinfo@madisonsfoundation.org
Internet: http://www.madisonsfoundation.org

For a Complete Report:

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

Last Updated:  8/26/2005
Copyright  1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization of Rare Disorders

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Hot Topics

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

WebMD Video: Now Playing

Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

tea
What you should eat.
Woman sitting in front of UV lights
Is yours working?
woman using breath spray
What's causing yours?
colon xray
Get the facts.
MS Overview
Recognizing symptoms.
bowl of yogurt with heart shape
Eat for a healthy heart.
woman doing pushups
To help you get fit.
Colored x-ray of tooth decay
Know what to look for.
Woman sitting with child
Do you know the symptoms?
fruit drinks
Foods that can help you focus.
Sad dog and guacamole
Don't feed this to your dog.
Thyroid exam
See how much you know.

Women's Health Newsletter

Find out what women really need.