Research Article

Inhibition of reticuloendothelial function by gold and its relation to postinjection reactions.

Br Med J 1979; 2 doi: (Published 28 July 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;2:235
  1. B D Williams,
  2. C M Lockwood,
  3. B A Pussell


    A patient with rheumatoid arthritis developed severe exacerbation of symptoms 18 hours after an injection of gold thiomalate (sodium aurothiomalate). Immune complexes were present in his serum and synovial fluid; in the synovial fluid they were associated with intense complement activation. The effect of gold salts on splenic reticuloendothelial function was determined by measuring the clearance of heat-damaged erythrocytes from the circulation. Gold thiomalate (50 mg) substantially delayed clearance in the patient but had no effect in four other patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had not had a postinjection reaction. Severely impaired clearance also occurred in three out of four healthy people given 100 mg gold but they remained asymptomatic. The postinjection reaction may be an immune-complex disease that is triggered in certain patients because gold transiently inhibits reticuloendothelial function.