The effect of two gold(I) compounds on stability of lysosomes in vitro was studied. Lysosomes from homogenates of rat kidney cortex were isolated by differential centrifugation. These lysosomes were incubated at 37 degrees C with widely varied concentrations of sodium aurothiomalate and sodium aurothiosulphate for 5, 35, and 65 minutes. Acid phosphatase activities were measured and used as an indication of lysosomal membrane stability in the presence and absence of drugs. The enhanced release of acid phosphatase from lysosomes by aurothiomalate and aurothiosulphate was related to dose, but the drugs differed substantially in their potencies. The disruptive effect on lysosomes was more marked for aurothiosulphate than for aurothiomalate. In addition, both drugs inhibited acid phosphatase activities at relatively high gold concentrations. Aurothiomalate had a moderate and aurothiosulphate a weaker inhibitory effect on the enzyme. Our results indicate that aurothiomalate and aurothiosulphate exert their beneficial effect in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis through mechanism(s) other than lysosomal membrane stabilisation.
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