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Epic Code 8998 Porphobilinogen Deaminase, Whole Blood

Important Note

Order as Reference Miscellaneous #8998; indicate complete test name when ordering.

Additional Codes

Mayo Code: PBGD

Reporting Name

PBG Deaminase, WB

Performing Laboratory

Mayo Clinic Laboratories in Rochester

Clinical Information

The porphyrias are a group of inherited disorders resulting from enzyme defects in the heme biosynthetic pathway. Acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) is caused by diminished erythrocyte activity of porphobilinogen deaminase (PBGD), also known as uroporphyrinogen I synthase or hydroxymethylbilane synthase (HMBS).


Onset of AIP typically occurs during puberty or later. Individuals may experience acute episodes of neuropathic symptoms. Common symptoms include severe abdominal pain, peripheral neuropathy, and psychiatric symptoms. Crises may be precipitated by a broad range of medications (including barbiturates and sulfa drugs), alcohol, infection, starvation, heavy metals, and hormonal changes. AIP is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. At-risk family members of patients with a biochemical diagnosis of AIP should undergo appropriate testing. Timely diagnosis is important as acute episodes of AIP can be fatal. Treatment of AIP includes the prevention of symptoms through avoidance of precipitating factors. More than 80% of individuals with a deficiency variant in the HMBS gene remain asymptomatic throughout their lives.


The biochemical diagnosis of AIP is made by demonstrating increased urinary excretion of porphobilinogen (PBG) and is most accurate during an acute episode. In addition, the diagnosis of AIP can be confirmed through the measurement of PBGD enzyme activity in erythrocytes, although 5% to 10% of affected individuals exhibit normal erythrocyte PBGD activity. In addition, molecular genetic confirmation (CGPH / Custom Gene Panel, Hereditary, Next-Generation Sequencing, Varies; specify gene list ID: IEMCP-WCJKC9) is available on a clinical basis and can be particularly helpful in identifying asymptomatic family members at risk of acute symptoms.


The workup of patients with a suspected porphyria is most effective when following a stepwise approach. See Porphyria (Acute) Testing Algorithm or call 800-533-1710 to discuss testing strategies.

Useful For

Confirmation of a diagnosis of acute intermittent porphyria

Specimen Type

Whole blood

Ordering Guidance

This test is for diagnosis of acute intermittent porphyria. Porphobilinogen deaminase, also known as uroporphyrinogen I synthase, is commonly confused with uroporphyrinogen III synthase, the enzyme deficient in congenital erythropoietic porphyria (CEP). For CEP cases, order UPGC / Uroporphyrinogen III Synthase (Co-Synthase), Erythrocytes.

Necessary Information

Include a list of medications the patient is currently taking.

Specimen Required

Patient Preparation: Abstinence from alcohol for at least 24 hours prior to specimen collection is essential as ethanol induces porphobilinogen deaminase activity, which may lead to a false-normal result.


Preferred: Green top (sodium heparin)

Acceptable: Lavender top (EDTA) or green top (lithium heparin)

Specimen Volume: 4 mL

Collection Instructions: Send whole blood in original vial.

Specimen Minimum Volume

3 mL

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Whole blood Refrigerated (preferred) 8 days
  Ambient  7 days

Reject Due To

Gross hemolysis Reject

Day(s) Performed

Tuesday, Thursday

Reference Values

Reference ranges have not been established for patients who are <16 years of age.


≥7.0 nmol/L/sec

6.0-6.9 nmol/L/sec (indeterminate)

<6.0 nmol/L/sec (diminished)


Abnormal results are reported with a detailed interpretation that may include an overview of the results and their significance, a correlation to available clinical information provided with the specimen, differential diagnosis, recommendations for additional testing when indicated and available.


A normal result does not rule-out acute intermittent porphyria; 5% to 10% of affected individuals will have normal erythrocyte porphobilinogen deaminase activity. Additionally, enzyme activity may be increased during an acute attack; therefore, the enzyme level should be assessed when the patient is asymptomatic.

Clinical Reference

1. Tortorelli S, Kloke K, Raymond K: Disorders of porphyrin metabolism. In: Dietzen DJ, Bennett MJ, Wong ECC, eds. Biochemical and Molecular Basis of Pediatric Disease. 4th ed. AACC Press; 2010:307-324

2. Nuttall KL, Klee GG: Analytes of hemoglobin metabolism-porphyrins, iron, and bilirubin. In: Burtis CA, Ashwood ER, eds. Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. 5th ed. WB Saunders Company; 2001:584-607

3. Anderson KE, Sassa S, Bishop DF, Desnick RJ: Disorders of heme biosynthesis: X-linked sideroblastic anemia and the porphyrias. In: Valle DL, Antonarakis S, Ballabio A, Beaudet AL, Mitchell GA. eds. The Online Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease. McGraw-Hill; 2019. Accessed September 04, 2020. Available at

Method Name

Enzymatic End Point/Spectrofluorometric

Method Description

Measurement of porphobilinogen deaminase (PBGD) activity is based on the measurement of the rate of synthesis of uroporphyrin from porphobilinogen (PBG) in incubated, lysed erythrocytes. Low yield of uroporphyrin from PBG indicates a deficiency of PBGD.(Ford RE, Ou CN, Ellefson RD: Assay for erythrocyte uroporphyrinogen I synthase activity, with porphobilinogen as substrate. Clin Chem. 1980 July;26(8):1182-1185; Bustad HJ, Vorland M, Ronneseth E, Sandberg S, Martinez A, Toska K: Conformational stability and activity analysis of two hydroxymethylbilane synthase mutants, K132N and V215E, with different phenotypic association with acute intermittent porphyria. Biosci Rep. 2013 Aug 8;33[4])

Report Available

2 to 4 days

Test Classification

This test was developed, and its performance characteristics determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information


LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
PBGD_ PBG Deaminase, WB 12810-8


Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
4022 PBG Deaminase, WB 12810-8
28400 Interpretation 59462-2
606470 Reviewed By 18771-6


1. New York Clients-Informed consent is required. Document on the request form or electronic order that a copy is on file. The following documents are available:

-Informed Consent for Genetic Testing (T576)

-Informed Consent for Genetic Testing-Spanish (T826)

2. If not ordering electronically, complete, print, and send a Biochemical Genetics Test Request (T798) with the specimen.