The effect of intravenously infused iron-dextran (Imferon) on the progression of antigen induced monarticular arthritis in rabbits was studied. A rapid deposition of iron and apoferritin in the synovia of arthritis joints occurred after infusion of iron-dextran during either the acute or chronic phases of the disease. This coincided with the appearance of catalytic (bleomycin reactive) iron in the synovial fluid. There was no evidence, however, for an exacerbation of the antigen induced arthritis as a result of the iron-dextran, and synovial and bleomycin reactive iron concentrations decreased with time after administration, indicating a redistribution of the synovial iron load. Thus although intravenously infused iron-dextran appears to 'prime' the rabbit arthritic joint transiently with the potential for iron stimulated oxygen free radical damage, other factors may determine its occurrence.
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