Gold distribution was studied in the tissues of 7 rheumatoid patients who had died from 0 to 23 years after stopping chrysotherapy (sodium aurothiomalate) and in 23 samples of synovial tissue removed surgically at intervals during chrysotherapy in 5 patients. After the application of a highly specific staining technique, the cellular localization of gold was examined microscopically in various tissues: the amounts of gold in selected areas of the same specimens which had been examined microscopically were then measured by neutron activation analysis. During active chrysotherapy gold was abundant in synovial lining cells except where a fibrin layer was present on the surface; after stopping chrysotherapy, gold disappeared from the synovial lining cells. Gold accumulated progressively in the subsynovial connective tissues during chrysotherapy, but was not uniformly distributed, and bore no relationship to fluctuations in serum gold levels. Gold deposition was not confined to joint tissue, but was found within the macrophages of many organs, renal tubular epithelium, and, after recent chrysotherapy, in seminiferous tubules, hepatocytes, and adrenal cortical cells. Gold persisted in synovial and other tissues for up to 23 years after chrysotherapy was stopped. The overall findings indicated that gold is selectively concentrated within inflamed synovial tissues during chrysotherapy.
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