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Test ID: FECHZ Ferrochelatase (FECH) Gene, Full Gene Analysis, Varies

Useful For

Confirmation of a diagnosis of erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) following positive biochemical genetic test results obtained through PEE / Porphyrins Evaluation, Whole Blood


Carrier testing for individuals with a family history of EPP in the absence of known mutations in the family

Method Name

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Followed by DNA Sequence Analysis

Reporting Name

FECH Gene, Full Gene Analysis

Specimen Type


Shipping Instructions

Specimen preferred to arrive within 96 hours of draw.

Specimen Required

Patient Preparation: A previous bone marrow transplant from an allogenic donor will interfere with testing. Call 800-533-1710 for instructions for testing patients who have received a bone marrow transplant.


Submit only 1 of the following specimens:



Specimen Type: Whole blood

Container/Tube: Lavender top (EDTA) or yellow top (ACD)

Specimen Volume: 3 mL

Collection Instructions:

1. Invert several times to mix blood.

2. Send specimen in original tube.

Specimen Stability Information: Ambient (preferred)/Refrigerated



Specimen Type: Blood spot

Supplies: Card - Blood Spot Collection (Filter Paper) (T493)


Preferred: Collection card (Whatman Protein Saver 903 Paper)

Acceptable: Ahlstrom 226 filter paper, or Blood Spot Collection Card (T493)

Specimen Volume: 2 to 5 Blood spots on collection card (Whatman Protein Saver 903 Paper; Ahlstrom 226 filter paper; or Blood Spot Collection Card, T493)

Collection Instructions:

1. An alternative blood collection option for a patient >1 year of age is finger stick.

2. Let blood dry on the filter paper at ambient temperature in a horizontal position for 3 hours.

3. Do not expose specimen to heat or direct sunlight.

4. Do not stack wet specimens.

5. Keep specimen dry.

Specimen Stability Information: Ambient (preferred)/Refrigerated

Additional Information:

1. For collection instructions, see Blood Spot Collection Instructions in Special Instructions.

2. For collection instructions in Spanish, see Blood Spot Collection Card-Spanish Instructions (T777) in Special Instructions.

3. For collection instructions in Chinese, see Blood Spot Collection Card-Chinese Instructions (T800) in Special Instructions.

Specimen Minimum Volume

Blood: 1 mL
Blood Spots: 5 punches-3 mm diameter

Specimen Stability Information

Specimen Type Temperature Time Special Container
Varies Varies

Clinical Information

Erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) is an inherited disorder of porphyrin metabolism whose clinical manifestations include painful photodermatosis without blisters and liver disease. The disorder results from decreased activity of the enzyme ferrochelatase (FECH). FECH is the last of 8 enzymes acting sequentially in the heme biosynthetic pathway and is encoded by the FECH gene located on chromosome 18.


The skin symptoms in EPP include immediate painful photosensitivity, usually beginning in early infancy upon sun exposure. Repeated photosensitivity episodes result in skin thickening and areas of hyperkeratosis. This is typically noted on areas where sun exposure is most common, such as the dorsa of the hands and on the face. A small number of patients with EPP develop liver complications. Hepatic disease in EPP may include cholelithiasis and chronic liver disease progressing to rapid acute liver failure.


Biochemically, EPP is characterized by elevated protoporphyrin levels in red blood cells, which fluorescence under Wood's light due to the accumulation of free protoporphyrin IX. Protoporphyrin elevations may also be found in plasma and stool, but not in all patients. Urine protoporphyrin levels are usually normal unless there is liver involvement. Studies have also suggested that a reduction in activity of ferrochelatase to <50% of normal levels can induce clinical manifestations. The gold standard test for the diagnosis of EPP is biochemical analysis (PEE / Porphyrins Evaluation, Whole Blood), interpreted in the context of clinical features.


In most patients with EPP, a pathogenic FECH mutation that reduces enzyme activity by 50% can be identified on only 1 allele. Clinical expression of EPP typically requires a hypomorphic (low expression) FECH allele (IVS3-48T->C) in trans (on a different chromosome) with the mutation. IVS3-48T->C is a variant of the FECH gene associated with reduced gene expression. This variant is found in approximately 10% of the general Caucasian population. Autosomal recessive inheritance (2 pathogenic mutations in trans) is infrequent, accounting for <4% of EPP cases. In contrast to patients with 1 pathogenic mutation and the low-expression allele, missense mutations are far more common than null mutations.


It is uncertain whether protoporphyric liver failure is more common among individuals with a single null (splicing defect, nonsense, or frameshift) mutation than those with 2 pathogenic mutations as some literature has suggested. In any case, it is certain that all EPP patients should be monitored for hepatic disease and actively manage their photosensitivity.

Reference Values

An interpretive report will be provided.


All detected alterations are evaluated according to American College of Medical Genetics recommendations.(1) Variants are classified based on known, predicted, or possible pathogenicity and reported with interpretive comments detailing their potential or known significance.

Clinical Reference

1. Richards S, Aziz N, Bale S, et al: Standards and guidelines for the interpretation of sequence variants: a joint consensus recommendation of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics and the Association for Molecular Pathology. Genet Med 2015 May;17(5):405-424

2. Lecha M, Puy H, Deybach JC: Erythropoietic protoporphyria. Orphanet J Rare Dis 2009;4:19

3. Schneider-Yin X, Gouya L, Meier-Weinand A, et al: New insights into the pathogenesis of erythropoietic protoporphyria and their impact on patient care. Eur J Pediatr 2000;159:719-725

4. Rufenacht UB, Gouya L, Schneider-Yin X, et al: Systematic analysis of molecular defects in the ferrochelatase gene from patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria. Am J Hum Genet 1998;62:1341-1352

5. Whatley SD, Mason NG, Holme SA, et al: Molecular epidemiology of erythropoietic protoporphyria in the U.K.. Br J Dermatol 2010;162:642-646

Day(s) Performed


Report Available

14 to 20 days

Test Classification

This test was developed, and its performance characteristics determined by Mayo Clinic in a manner consistent with CLIA requirements. This test has not been cleared or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

CPT Code Information

81479-Unlisted molecular pathology procedure

LOINC Code Information

Test ID Test Order Name Order LOINC Value
FECHZ FECH Gene, Full Gene Analysis 94233-4


Result ID Test Result Name Result LOINC Value
53901 Result Summary 50397-9
53902 Result 82939-0
53903 Interpretation 69047-9
53904 Additional Information 48767-8
53905 Specimen 31208-2
53906 Source 31208-2
53907 Released By 18771-6

Testing Algorithm

See Porphyria (Cutaneous) Testing Algorithm in Special Instructions.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories | Genetics and Pharmacogenomics Catalog Additional Information: