During an uncontrolled, open-labelled, open-ended clinical trial of auranofin in children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) we obtained serial blood samples for the purpose of assessing gold content. Our objectives were (1) to observe the pattern of blood gold concentrations over a period of time in children undergoing long-term oral gold therapy, and (2) to observe the effect of changing dosage levels on blood gold concentrations. The initial dosage of auranofin was 0.1 mg/kg/day with allowable increases to 0.2 mg/kg/day. A concurrent nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug was allowed. Twenty-one patients were enrolled in the study, and we obtained 2 or more serial samples on 13 of the children. At a constant dosage of 0.1 mg/kg/day, steady state blood gold concentrations were attained in 11 to 13 weeks of therapy and, in the absence of a dosage change, remained remarkably constant through extended periods. The blood gold concentration was related to total daily dosage rather than to the cumulative amount of gold received. Increasing or decreasing the dose resulted in a direct effect on concentration. The clinical value of blood gold levels resulting from auranofin therapy in JRA will have to be established through double-blind controlled trials.
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