FREE subscriptions for doctors and students... click here
You have 3 more open access pages.

Seek expert advice.

Treatment during an acute attack:

  • basis for treatment is the reduction of upstream haeme intermediates (1)

Haem infusions

  • are presently, in most settings, the preferred specific treatment for sporadic acute attacks (2)
    • haem restores hepatic haem
    • haem infusions are usually well tolerated and successful in the treatment of sporadic acute attacks
    • mechanism of action:
      • to produce haem, the body needs to convert porphyrin precursor chemicals ALA and PBG (5-aminolaevulinic acid and porphobilinogen) into more complicated substances called porphyrins. These are then converted from one type of porphyrin into another to form haem
      • by replenishing hepatic haem stores the initial rate-limiting enzyme ALA synthase is inhibited by a process of negative feedback. The formation of porphyrins and their precursors, ALA and PBG, is reduced and symptoms improve
      • after haem administration, urine ALA, PBG and porphyrins will fall within the first 24 hours


  • Spiritos Z, Salvador S, Mosquera D, Wilder J. Acute Intermittent Porphyria: Current Perspectives And Case Presentation. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2019 Dec 16;15:1443-1451. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S180161. PMID: 31908464; PMCID: PMC6930514.
  • Bustad HJ, Kallio JP, Vorland M, Fiorentino V, Sandberg S, Schmitt C, Aarsand AK, Martinez A. Acute Intermittent Porphyria: An Overview of Therapy Developments and Future Perspectives Focusing on Stabilisation of HMBS and Proteostasis Regulators. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jan 12;22(2):675. doi: 10.3390/ijms22020675. PMID: 33445488; PMCID: PMC7827610

Last edited 06/2022 and last reviewed 06/2022