Acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) is an autosomal dominant metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of hepatic porphobilinogen deaminase (PBGD). The disease is characterized by life threatening acute neurovisceral attacks. The aim of this study was to identify metabolites secreted by the hepatocytes that reflect differential metabolic status in the liver and that may predict response to the acute attack treatment. Plasma vitamin D binding protein (VDBP) from a mouse model of AIP displayed an abnormal migration in 2D-electrophoresis that is efficiently recovered upon gene therapy leading to liver specific over-expression of the PBGD protein. The change in VDBP mobility results from a differential isoelectric point suggesting a post-translational modification that takes place preferably in the liver. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) analysis of human samples before and after glycosidase treatment revealed glycosylated plasma VDBP specifically in patients with recurrent attacks of ALP. Glycosylated VDBP recovered normal values in three severely afflicted AIP patients submitted to therapeutic liver transplantation. Our findings suggest that post-translational modification of VDBP might be considered as a promising biomarker to study and monitor the liver metabolic status in patients with AIP.
Significance: We describe an increased glycosylation of VDBP in porphyric livers. Normal glycosylation was recovered upon liver gene therapy in a mouse model of porphyria or after liver transplantation in severely afflicted patients with AIP. Moreover, quantification of glycosylated VDBP by our ELISA immunoassay or LC-MS protocol in patients undergoing PBGD-gene therapy (www.aipgene.org) may be used as a marker indicating improvement or normalization of the patient's hepatic metabolism.