Porphyrins are generated as the body builds hemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen in blood cells. Porphyrin (from the Greek word for purple) is made up of four ring compounds joined together, a structure conducive to holding a metal ion in its center, iron in the heme porphyrin of hemoglobin and magnesium in chlorophyll. Small amounts of several porphyrins appear in urine normally. The relative amounts of each porphyrin are altered by certain hereditary diseases and by environmental or nutritional influences. The classic cases of hereditary porphyria displayed highly colored urine and skin eruptions and neurological symptoms of mania and “madness.”
Urine: 10 mL of urine collected and poured into an amber vial with no additive.