The Biosynthesis and Degradation of Heme

  • George H. Tait
Part of the Handbuch der experimentellen Pharmakologie / Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 44)


Research on the biosynthesis and degradation of heme and hemoproteins was and still is stimulated by the need to understand the nature of the many diseases where these orderly processes are disturbed. In the anemias, the body is unable to synthesize enough hemoglobin either because it cannot make erythrocytes fast enough, or because heme or globin synthesis is defective. By contrast, in the porphyrias heme and hemoproteins are synthesized at almost normal rates, but in the process excessive amounts of porphyrins and their precursors are formed. In jaundice, bilirubin accumulates because of excessive breakdown of erythrocytes and catabolism of their hemoglobin, or because of inability of the liver to take up, conjugate, or excrete bilirubin. Many of these disorders are genetically determined, but disorders of heme biosynthesis and degradation also occur when the diet is deficient in one or more of a number of constituents, or during the course of a number of diseases which are not of genetic origin. In addition, disturbances of these pathways can be produced in man and animals by a variety of inorganic and organic compounds; some of these are used therapeutically, and others can be absorbed accidentally from the environment.


Heme Biosynthesis Acute Intermittent Porphyria Heme Oxygenase Activity Globin Synthesis Coproporphyrinogen Oxidase 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1978

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  • George H. Tait

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