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Research Article

The natural course of gold nephropathy: long term study of 21 patients.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 26 September 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:745
  1. C L Hall,
  2. N J Fothergill,
  3. M M Blackwell,
  4. P R Harrison,
  5. J C MacKenzie,
  6. A G MacIver
  1. Department of Renal Medicine, Royal United Hospital, Bath.


    To clarify the natural course of gold nephropathy and thereby facilitate its clinical management 21 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who developed proteinuria during treatment with intramuscular sodium aurothiomalate were studied in detail throughout their renal illnesses. Renal biopsies were performed, and creatinine clearance and proteinuria were measured serially for 60 months (range 16-130 months). Ten patients developed proteinuria after six months' treatment, 15 after 12 months, and 18 after 24 months. When treatment was stopped the proteinuria reached a median peak of 2.1 g/day (range 0.7-30.7 g/day) at two months (range 1-13 months) before resolving spontaneously, in eight patients by six months, in 13 by 12 months, and in 18 by 24 months. All patients were free of proteinuria by 39 months, the median duration being 11 months. The median first and last measurements of creatinine clearance showed no significant change (77 ml/minute and 59 ml/minute, respectively), and no patient died from or needed treatment for renal failure. HLA-B8 or DR3 alloantigens, or both, were identified in seven patients. Renal biopsy specimens showed membranous glomerulonephritis in 15 patients, a minimal change nephropathy in two, mesangial electron dense deposits in two, and no appreciable glomerular changes in two. In these 21 patients the proteinuria of gold nephropathy resolved completely when treatment was withdrawn. Renal function did not deteriorate, corticosteroids were unnecessary, and several different renal lesions were seen.