Acidic solvents extract the same porphyrin-protoporphyrin-from the erythrocytes of patients with either erythropoietic protoporphyria or lead intoxication. However, extractable protoporphyrin disappears rapidly, both in vivo and in vitro, from erythrocytes in erythropoietic protoporphyria but slowly, if at all, in lead intoxication. Consistent with these observations, fluorescence spectroscopy revealed that the intracellular state of the erythrocyte protoporphyrin is different in the two diseases. Spectrofluorometric measurements coupled with fractionations and biochemical syntheses showed that in erythropoietic protoporphyria the protoporphyrin is bound as the free base to hemoglobin molecules at sites other than the heme binding sites. In lead intoxication the fluorescent porphyrin is also bound to hemoglobin but is present as zinc protoporphyrin. The data suggest that the zinc protoporphyrin is bound at heme binding sites. Acidic extraction solvents remove the chelated zinc, but zinc protoporphyrin may be extracted intact from erythrocytes with acetone, ethanol, or the detergent Ammonyx-LO.
A A Lamola, S Piomelli, M G Poh-Fitzpatrick, T Yamane, L C Harber