In a family inheriting the hereditary coproporphyria (HCP) gene, where 414 descendants have been traced through six generations and 135 members screened for faecal porphyrins, 27 subjects were found to have inherited the gene as well as the proband. Seven (six female and one male) in retrospect had probably previously suffered from a clinical attack of porphyria. Enzymological studies were carried out on 15 members and two unaffected parents and these results in general agreed with the faecal coproporphyrin readings. Symptomatic illness is low in HCP and is almost always precipitated by drugs known to have an adverse effect on the condition. If the gene is inherited, an attack can occur at any time between puberty and old age, such as in the proband at 84 years. We have detected abnormal faecal coproporphyrin levels in members of this pedigree as young as 12 years and as old as 87 years. Recommendations are given concerning the necessity of tracing relatives who may have inherited the gene and arranging for their biochemical screening and genetic counseling if indicated.
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