Double isotope-labelled aurothiomalate (195Au-14C-thiomalate) has been administered to mice, and the excretory fate and tissue distribution have been studied. The results show that the gold and the thiomalate separate in vivo resulting in protein-bound gold and release of free thiomalate. About half of this thiol is excreted in the urine during the first day, and the remaining half is bound to tissue membranes and cells. Although thiomalate penetrates cellular membranes slowly in vitro. the compound is found in all organs, mostly in the liver and the kidneys, after administration of aurothiomalate. Separation of the gold moiety from its thiol carrier also takes place in man. This explains the finding of free thiomalate in the urine of patients receiving aurothiomalate intramuscularly. As thiomalate has now been shown to possess penicillamine-like biological activities it is suggested that at least part of the antirheumatic effects of aurothiomalate may be due to the thiol carrier being released in the body.
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