Bronze Baby Syndrome: New Insights on Bilirubin-Photosensitization of Copper-Porphyrins

  • F. F. Rubaltelli
  • G. Jori
  • E. Rossi
  • G. Garbo


“Bronze” baby syndrome (BBS) was first described in 1972 by Kopelman et al.,l who observed a newborn infant with a grey-brown discoloration following phototherapy for unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia. Subsequent reports2–6 described the clinical aspects of this syndrome while other papers attempted to clarify the biochemical mechanisms leading to the onset of BBS.7–9 In 1982, we were able to demonstrate that a large amount of porphyrins is present in sera of BBS patients.8 These porphyrins were identified as Cu2+-uro, Cu2+-copro, and Cu2+-protoporphyrin.9 In addition, large amounts of serum porphyrins and serum copper were detected in sera of adult and pediatric patients with cholestatic disorders.10,11 On the basis of these observations and “in vitro” studies showing that, after visible light-irradiation, synthetically prepared Cu2+-porphyrins added to cord blood serum exhibited spectral changes closely similar to those found upon irradiation of BBS serum, we have suggested that Cu2+-porphyrins undergo photodestruction sensitized by bilirubin yielding photoproducts having generalized absorption in the near-UV and red spectral regions, hence responsible for the brown discoloration.9


Spectral Change Neonatal Jaundice Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia Irradiate Solution Free Base Porphyrin 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. F. Rubaltelli
    • 1
  • G. Jori
    • 2
  • E. Rossi
    • 1
  • G. Garbo
    • 2
  1. 1.Clinica PediatricaCentro C.N.R. Emocianine, Università di PadovaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto Biologia AnimaleCentro C.N.R. Emocianine, Università di PadovaItaly

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