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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

Print version ISSN 0100-879XOn-line version ISSN 1414-431X


RIOS DE MOLINA, M.C. et al. The decrease in uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase activity induced by ethanol predisposes rats to the development of porphyria and accelerates xenobiotic-triggered porphyria, regardless of hepatic damage. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2002, vol.35, n.11, pp.1273-1283. ISSN 0100-879X.

We evaluated the porphyrinogenic ability of ethanol (20% in drinking water) per se, its effect on the development of sporadic porphyria cutanea tarda induced by hexachlorobenzene in female Wistar rats (170-190 g, N = 8/group), and the relationship with hepatic damage. Twenty-five percent of the animals receiving ethanol increased up to 14-, 25-, and 4.5-fold the urinary excretion of d-aminolevulinate, porphobilinogen, and porphyrins, respectively. Ethanol exacerbated the precursor excretions elicited by hexachlorobenzene. Hepatic porphyrin levels increased by hexachlorobenzene treatment, while this parameter only increased (up to 90-fold) in some of the animals that received ethanol alone. Ethanol reduced the activities of uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase, d-aminolevulinate dehydrase and ferrochelatase. In the ethanol group, many of the animals showed a 30% decrease in uroporphyrinogen activity; in the ethanol + hexachlorobenzene group, this decrease occurred before the one caused by hexachlorobenzene alone. Ethanol exacerbated the effects of hexachlorobenzene, among others, on the rate-limiting enzyme d-aminolevulinate synthetase. The plasma activities of enzymes that are markers of hepatic damage were similar in all drug-treated groups. These results indicate that 1) ethanol exacerbates the biochemical manifestation of sporadic hexachlorobenzene-induced porphyria cutanea tarda; 2) ethanol per se affects several enzymatic and excretion parameters of the heme metabolic pathway; 3) since not all the animals were affected to the same extent, ethanol seems to be a porphyrinogenic agent only when there is a predisposition, and 4) hepatic damage showed no correlation with the development of porphyria cutanea tarda.

Keywords : Alcoholism; Ethanol; Heme metabolic pathway; Hepatic damage; Hexachlorobenzene; Porphyria cutanea tarda.

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