The mechanism of D-penicillamine induced thrombocytopenia in rheumatoid arthritis was investigated by measuring platelet life-span and platelet production rate in 2 groups of rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with 250-750 mg/day D-penicillamine, 14 with a normal platelet count and 9 with thrombocytopenia (platelet count 50-130 X 10(9)/1). Age matched control patients not treated with D-penicillamine included 14 with rheumatoid arthritis and 9 with osteoarthritis. The platelet life-span was normal, but platelet production rate was significantly reduced in the thrombocytopenic patients, suggesting that D-penicillamine causes thrombocytopenia through bone marrow suppression.
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