Extracts of 19 samples of pus which showed red fluorescence with ultraviolet light were screened for the presence of porphyrins by absorption spectrophotometry. All those which showed spectra typical of metal-free porphyrins were analysed by high performance liquid chromatography to identify the porphyrins present. These were predominantly the di-carboxylic porphyrins, deuteroporphyrin and mesoporphyrin, and another which was thought to be pemptoporphyrin. This combination matched those reported previously in normal stools. Protoporphyrin IX was shown not to be the most common fluorescent pigment in pus and was never present alone. However, the di-carboxylic porphyrins may be produced by bacterial metabolism of its labile vinyl side-chains. Black-pigmented bacteroides (the melaninogenicus group of spp. and spp.) were isolated from 12 (63%) of the 19 pus samples; these may produce protoporphyrin IX by the demetallation of haem.


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