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Does chloroquine therapy of porphyria cutanea tarda influence liver pathology?

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Abstract Background 

Porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) is regularly associated with changes in liver tissue. On the other hand, systematic investigations are lacking on whether there is a correlation between the severity of liver damage and chloroquine treatment. Patients and methods 

During a 20-year period, liver biopsies were obtained in 89 patients with PCT confirmed by biochemical analysis of urine and feces and low-dose chloroquine therapy. Seventeen patients with alcohol-induced liver disease were excluded. In 8 of 63 patients, only a single biopsy was available. Classification of liver damage was performed according to the Riedel score. Electron microscopy was available from 24 patients. In a second group of patients, the HFE status was investigated and Berlin blue stains of liver biopsies were performed. Results 

There was no correlation between the duration of cutaneous symptoms and liver pathology. After 12 months chloroquine treatment, 45 patients (81%) disclosed an improvement of liver pathology, nine (16%) had no change, and a worsening was observed in one patient (3%). All patients achieved a complete clinical and biochemical remission. In 13 of 16 patients with a relapse, there was again a deterioration of liver damage. Patients with HFE mutations had a significant higher risk (P < 0.05) for hepatic siderosis. Conclusions 

The severity of liver damage was not correlated with the disease duration. Chloroquine treatment resulted in PCT remission (clinical and biochemical) and in 81% to an improvement of liver morphology.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: 1Department of Dermatology and Allergology 2: 2Institute of Pathology “Georg Schmorl”, Hospital Dresden-Friedrichstadt, Academic Teaching Hospital of the Technical University of Dresden 3: 3Klinik für Innere Medizin des Klinikums Chemnitz, Germany

Publication date: 01 November 2009

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