The Natural Course of Gold and Penicillamine Nephropathy: A Longterm Study of 54 Patients

  • Clive L. Hall
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 252)


To elucidate the natural course of gold and penicillamine nephropathy and to facilitate appropriate clinical management 54 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who developed proteinuria during treatment with intramuscular gold thiomalate (21) or oral D penicillamine (33) were studied in detail throughout the whole of their renal illnesses. Renal biopsy was performed and creatinine clearance and proteinuria were measured serially for a median period of 60 months (range 16 – 130 months) in the gold treated and 74 months (range 13 – 158 months) in the penicillamine treated patients.

During gold (penicillamine) treatment 48% (43%), 71% (82%) and 86% (91%) of patients had presented with proteinuria by 6, 12 and 24 months of treatment. After stopping gold (penicillamine) treatment proteinuria reached a median maximum of 2.1 g/day (4.2 g/day) at 2 months (1 month) before resolving spontaneously so that by 6, 12 and 18 months 38% (36%), 62% (64%) and 76% (88%) of patients were free of proteinuria. The median initial and most recent creatinine clearances of the gold (penicillamine) treated patients were 77 ml/min (80 ml/min) and 59 ml/min (78 ml/min) respectively and no patients died from or needed treatment for chronic renal failure. HLA B8 and/or DR3 alloantigens were identified in 64% of the gold treated and 56% of the penicillamine treated patients. In the gold (penicillamine) treated patients renal biopsy revealed membranous glomerulonephritis (GN) in 72% (88%), an immune complex mesangial glomerulonephritis in 10% (6%), minimal change nephropathy in 10% (6%) and no significant glomerular abnormalities in 8% (0%).

The study has demonstrated the close similarity between gold and penicillamine nephropathy. It has also demonstrated that some 75% of cases develop during the first year of treatment, the proteinuria resolves completely when treatment is withdrawn, progressive deterioration of renal function is most uncommon, corticosteroid therapy is unnecessary and several different types of glomerulonephritis are associated with gold and penicillamine treatment.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid Disease Membranous Glomerulonephritis Minimal Change Nephropathy Gold Treatment 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clive L. Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.Consultant Physician and NephrologistRoyal United HospitalBathUK

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