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Infrared spectroscopy was used to evaluate the effect of non-iron porphyrins (protoporphyrin IX and haematoporphyrin) on haematin polymerisation to beta-haematin at acidic pH. Both molecules effectively inhibited the reaction, with haematoporphyrin 6 times as active as protoporphyrin IX. We postulated that the interaction between the pi electron system of porphyrin rings leads to the formation of pi-pi adducts, which inhibit polymer elongation in the same way as antimalarial drugs (e.g., chloroquine); the presence of hydroxyl groups able to bind haem iron enhances activity.

Original publication




Journal article


FEBS letters

Publication Date





297 - 299


Instituto di Microbiologia Medica, Università di Milano, Milan, Italy.


Humans, Malaria, Falciparum, Hematoporphyrins, Hemin, Protoporphyrins, Chloroquine, Polymers, Hemeproteins, Antimalarials, Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared, Dimerization