Hereditary coproporphyria: An imitator of multiple sclerosis

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      Hereditary coproporphyria can cause both peripheral neuropathy and central nervous system abnormalities. There are several similarities between multiple sclerosis and hereditary coproporphyria that are probably due to the central nervous system dysfunction present in both. This report describes a 62-year-old man with a five-year history of progressive paraparesis initially diagnosed as multiple sclerosis. Supporting evidence for the diagnosis of a demyelinating disease included three oligoclonal bands in the patient's cerebral spinal fluid, a prolonged visual evoked response bilaterally, abnormal sensory evoked potentials, and an area of increased signal in the posterior cervical cord suggestive of demyelination that was demonstrated on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Features atypical for multiple sclerosis were hypoactive deep-tendon reflexes, electromyographic evidence of peripheral neuropathy, and severe constipation. Elevated urine porphyrins and decreased levels of coproporphyrinogen oxidase confirmed the correct diagnosis of hereditary coproporphyria. The patient improved after being placed on a high-carbohydrate diet. Although central demyelination is known to occur in patients with porphyria, delayed evoked potentials and MRI abnormalities have not been previously reported.


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