Co-existence of hereditary coproporphyria and porphyria cutanea tarda: The importance of genetic testing


  • Alice Rudd, MBBS. Janine Grant, BSc MAACB MAppSci. George Varigos, MBBS PhD FACD. Vanessa Morgan, MBBS FACD. Ingrid Winship, MBChB FRACP FACD.

Dr Alice Louise Rudd, Department of Dermatology, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Grattan St, Melbourne, Vic. 3050, Australia. Email:


The porphyrias are a group of inherited disorders that result in defects in the enzymes of the haem biosynthetic pathway, causing photosensitive bullous skin eruptions or abdominal and neurological attacks. Enzymatic defects result in specific porphyrin excretory patterns that are diagnosed biochemically and can be confirmed by genetic testing. Defects in the coproporphyrinogen oxidase (CPOX) enzyme result in the autosomal dominant hereditary coproporphyria. Multiple mutations have been identified in the CPOX gene and incomplete penetrance is noted. Latent carriers without clinical evidence of disease are at risk of life-threatening attacks. Porphyria cutanea tarda may be inherited, but is more commonly acquired. Occasionally two forms of porphyria may co-exist. The importance of genetic testing is discussed.