Protoporphyrin IX: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Madhav Sachar, Karl E. Anderson, Xiaochao Ma

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    115 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Protoporphyrin IX (PPIX) is ubiquitously present in all living cells in small amounts as a precursor of heme. PPIX has some biologic functions of its own, and PPIX-based strategies have been used for cancer diagnosis and treatment (the good). PPIX serves as the substrate for ferrochelatase, the final enzyme in heme biosynthesis, and its homeostasis is tightly regulated during heme synthesis. Accumulation of PPIX in human porphyrias can cause skin photosensitivity, biliary stones, hepatobiliary damage, and even liver failure (the bad and the ugly). In this work, we review the mechanisms that are associated with the broad aspects of PPIX. Because PPIX is a hydrophobic molecule, its disposition is by hepatic rather than renal excretion. Large amounts of PPIX are toxic to the liver and can cause cholestatic liver injury. Application of PPIX in cancer diagnosis and treatment is based on its photodynamic effects.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)267-275
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
    Volume356
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Medicine
    • Pharmacology

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