The levels of beta 2-microglobulin (beta 2-m) in serum and urine of 24 seropositive patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with regular gold (sodium aurothiomalate) injections have been investigated. The values obtained were compared with levels from 20 seropositive patients with RA treated only with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and 20 age and sex matched normal controls who had received no medication. A significant increase of urinary beta 2-m levels was found in the gold-treated RA group. No correlation between dose of gold received and the levels of beta 2-m in the urine could be established. There was also no correlation between the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or total lymphocyte count and beta 2-m levels in serum or urine. We conclude that serum and urinary beta 2-m levels appear to be poor indices of joint inflammation, but sequential urinary beta 2-m levels may prove valuable in monitoring the development of renal tubular lesions due to gold therapy.
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