The Effect of D-Penicillamine Leukocyte Function



HANNA CHwALINsKA-SADowsKA and JoHN BAUM From the Arthritis and Clinical Immunology Unit, Monroe Community Hospital, and the Department of Medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14603

A B S T R A C T n-Penicillamine, a reducing and chelating agent used in the treating of rheumatoid arthritis, was tested for its effects on polymorphonuclear leukocyte chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and lysosomal enzymes. jO-Glucuronidase release from polymorphonuclear leukocytes after phagocytosis of latex particles was not affected by n-penicillamine at concentrations ranging from 25 to 400 mg/liter. No direct effect was seen on enzyme activity at the maximum concentration of the drug. There was no inhibition of latex particle ingestion. No cell damage was found at 400 mg/liter penicillamine as measured by lactic dehydrogenase release. At this drug concentration there was only a 15% reduction in hemolytic complement levels. Chemotaxis was significantly decreased at concentrations of 50 mg/liter with a dose-dependent effect at higher concentrations which showed a plateau from 200 to 400 mg/liter. The parent compound n-cysteine was also tested in these systems. The same lack of effect on phagocytosis and enzyme release was found. n-Cysteine did inhibit chemotaxis but to a lesser degree than n-penicillamine. This dicotomy of drug effect may indicate that the beneficial action of D-penicillamine in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis is due to the decreased chemotaxis of polymorphonuclear leukocytes into the joint, while the absence of an effect on phagocytosis and lysosomal enzymes shows the cells can still function to ingest and destroy bacteria. This latter effect correlates with the absence of infection in patients treated with this

compound. INTRODUCTION Since the paper describing the use of D-penicillamine in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis by Jaffe, there Dr. Chwalinska-Sadowvska's present address is the Institute of Rheumatology, Warsaw, Poland. Received for publication 29 December 1975 and in retised form 28 May 1976.

have been several studies reporting the beneficial effects of penicillamine in rheumatoid arthritis (RA)' (1-3). More recently a double-blind trial was conducted in England by a combined clinic group (4). Their results supported the beneficial effects found in the earlier uncontrolled trials of n-penicillamine therapy. There was found a significant improvement in disease activity with a notable decrease in joint activity. The most common adverse reactions including rash, G. I. disturbances, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and proteinuria usually responded to withdrawal of the drug. D-Penicillamine thus appears to be an effective, relatively safe agent for the treatment of RA. The immunosuppressive drugs used for long-term treatment of RA such as the immunosuppressives (cyclophosphamide, azathioprine, and chlorambucil) show a tendency to promote the development of infection in treated patients but this problem has not been reported during therapy with D-penicillamine. This side effect is particularly important because of the higher frequency of infection that is present de novo in patients with RA (5). Since patients treated with D-penicillamine are spared this complication, we felt a study of n-penicillamine in relation to granulocyte function might show how this drug could favorably influence the course of RA while leaving intact the body's ability to handle infection. The specific aim of these studies, therefore, was to look at the in vitro effect of n-penicillamine on human polymorphonuclear leukocyte chemotaxis and phagocytosis. Since D-cysteine has basically the same structure as penicillamine the experiments were done with both drugs at the same concentrations. Any differences found between the effect of penicillamine and cysteine on leukocyte function might then 'Abbreviations used in this paper: CH50, total hemolytic complement activity; F-II, Cohn Fraction II; HBSS, Hanks' balanced salt solution; LDH, lactic dehydrogenase; PMN, polymorphonuclear neutrophils; RA, rheumatoid arthritis.

The Journal of Clinical Investigation Volume 58 October 1976*871-879


provide some measure of the specific effect of penicillamine.

METHODS Cells. In the course of these experiments polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN) were obtained from the blood of 20 normal, healthy laboratory personnel, and from 10 patients with RA. All RA patients were rheumatoid factor positive. In seven of the patients the titer was equal to or greater than 1: 5,120; in two the titer was 1: 320; and in one. 1: 160. The individuals own cells were always used as the controls during the course of the experiments. Preparationi of leitkocvtes. 40 ml of blood was obtained in heparinized Vaccutainer tubes (Becton-Dickinson & Co., Rutherford, N. J.). 20 ml of the blood was spunI for 10 min at 2,000 rpm to obtain plasma. To the 20 ml of remaining blood was added 1.5 ml of 2% methyl cellulose. After mixing, the blood was allowed to settle for 60 min at room temperature. The cell-rich plasma was placed into plastic tubes and mixed with an equal volume of Hanks' balanced salt solution (HBSS) and washed twice. The final cell button was resuspended in 25% plasma and HBSS to obtain a final cell count of 5 X 108 cells/ml dilutent. Drugs. D-Penicillamine was obtained through the courtesy of Dr. Robert Thompson of Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, West Point, Pa. It was supplied as the base without the addition of any preservatives. D-Cysteine hydrochloride monhydrate was obtained from ICN Nutritional Biochemicals Div., International Chemical & Nuclear Corp., Cleveland, Ohio. Most studies were performed at concentrations of 0, 25, 50, 100, and 400 mg/liter with both drugs. An additional concentration of 12.5 mg/liter was prepared for some chemotaxis experiments. Preparationt of latex particles. The latex particles (diameter 1.011 /Am) were obtained from The Dow Chemical Company, Indianapolis, Ind. They were prepared for use by the method of Kvarstein (6). A 1%7 solution in HBSS was used. 0.1 ml of this solution was added to 5 x 108 leukocytes in 2 ml of medium. En-yiime assays. 6-Glucuronidase was selected as the lysosomal enzyme to be measured following the observations of Hawkins and Peeters (7) who found that of all the lysosomal enzymes that they measured, p-glucuronidase was the best indicator of lysosomal activity. The method of B-glucuronidase measurement was that of Fishman (8). 0.1 ml of sample was added to a tube containing 0.1 ml of substrate (phenolphthalein glucuronide) and 0.8 ml of 0.1 M acetate buffer, pH 4.5. A control was set up f or each sample containing 0.1 ml substrate and 0.8 ml of buffer. A blank containing 0.1 ml substrate and 0.8 ml of buffer was also prepared. All the tubes were incubated for 18 h at 38°C. The reaction was stopped by the addition of 2.5 ml of alkaline glycine solution, 1.0 ml 5%7 TCA, and 1.5 ml distilled water. Optical density was read at 540 nm. The percent of total activity of ,B-glucuronidase in the medium was obtained by dividing the activity of j8-glucuronidase in the medium by the total activity of the resting cells. Lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) was measured by the method of Wr6blewski and LaDue (9). LDH activity was measured as a means of identifying any destructive effects on the intact cell, since as a cytoplasmic enzyme it would only be released if there were damage to the cell membrane. To measure LDH, 0.1 cm3 of sample was added to a tube containing 2.4 ml phosphate buffer, pH 7.4, and 0.1 ml of DPNH. The tubes were incubated for 20 min at room


H. Chwalinska-Sadowska and J. Baum

temperature. 0.1 ml of sodium pyruvate was added at time zero. The change in optic density after 3 min was used to express the percent of total activity of LDH in medium with resting cells and after phagocytosis. Phagocytosis experiinen ts. The various concentrations of D-penicillamine and D-cysteine were prepared in 0.5 ml of HBSS. To this was added 0.5 ml of autologous plasma. In the control tube, 0.5 ml of HBSS was substituted for the solution of drug. This material was then mixed with 1.0 ml of cell suspension to obtain the final drug concentrations in the respective tubes. Therefore, the final volume of cell suspension was 2.0 ml containing 5.0 x 10' cells and the final plasma concentration in the medium was 36%. The pH of the medium with each drug at 400 mg/liter was 7.5. After a 15-min prior incubation of the drug and the PMN at 37°C, 0.1 ml of a 1% solution of polystyrene latex particles in HBSS was added to tubes with and without the drug. An additional tube for resting cells was prepared in which HBSS was substituted for the solution of drug and latex particles. The cells were then incubated with the polystyrene latex particles for 60 min at 37°C in a constantly revolving rotor in plastic tubes. The PMN were then spun for 10 min at 1,250 rpm and the supernates were removed and used for the enzyme studies. No remaining cells were observed in the supernate after spinning. The cell button was then resuspended in 2.0 ml of 0.34 M sucrose plus 0.1 ml of 2% Triton X (Rohm & Haas Co., Philadelphia, Pa.). (The final concentration of Triton was 1%). This was mixed thoroughly on a vortex and incubated for 10 min at 37°C. After this, the material was spun for 20 min at 11,000 rpm at 4°C. The supernates of this material were also used for enzyme measurements. The measurements of 6-glucuronidase release from PMN after phagocytosis were performed by preincubation of the cells with the D-penicillamine and D-cysteine before the polystyrene latex particles were added. The total incubation period for measurement of the release of ,B-glucuronidase after ingestion of particles was 60 min. This time was used following the studies of Ignarro et al. who found that pglucuronidase release increased with time after phagocytosis with the curve flattening at 40 min (10). The concentration of polystyrene 'atex particles used per cell and the duration of uptake were based upon the studies of Kvarstein (11). The concentration was approximately 100-120 particles per polymorphonuclear leukocyte. Kvarstein also showed that the uptake of particles went rapidly to a maximum with a plateau at about 15 min. The time duration for both the latex particles, phagocytosis, and drug exposure were based upon the optimum levels found in these two studies. To determine the effect of penicillamine on the uptake of latex particles, slides were made with PMN after a 60min incubation with latex particles in the absence and presence of the maximum dosage of D-penicillamine (400 mg/ liter). The slides were stained with Wright's stain and the cells checked for latex particle uptake. Latex particle uptake was measured in the absence of penicillamine and in the presence of concentrations of 100 and 400 mg/liter. At each concentration 100 cells were counted in two separate runs. The number of particles per cell was counted by light microscopy. As a further control, the agents used in the preparations were studied for any direct effect on the enzyme activity in the plasma. D-Penicillamine and D-cysteine were added at the maximum concentration 400 mg/liter and compared to zero concentration. The plasma was incubated with this concentration of drugs for 75 min and 8-glucuronidase and

LDH measurements were made and compared with the control which were incubated without these materials. The latex particles were also used as controls and again incubations were carried out for 75 min with the polystyrene latex and compared to the plasma without this material. Chemotaxis. The cells for this assay were obtained with our standard method (12). The cell suspensions containing the drug and the drug-free control were prepared in the same manner as for phagocytosis. After a 60-min incubation with the drug the cells were spun onto cellulose membrane filters (Schleicher & Schuell, Inc., Keene, N. H.) and placed in chemotaxis chambers (Bellco Glass, Inc., Vineland, N. J.). In the top portion of the chamber, HBSS was placed. To the bottom section (0.12 ml) was added a mixture containing 20% (vol/vol) human serum and aggregated Cohn Fraction II (F-II) 1 g/liter. A control for each sample was prepared with aggregated F-II along in 1 g/liter HBSS in the bottom section (0.12 m). The chambers were incubated for 3 h at 37°C. The membrane filters were removed and stained by Boyden's method. The cells were counted with semi-automated counting system (PIMC particle counter, Millipore Corp., Bedford, Mass.) (13). The chemotactic index was then calculated. Each experiment was done in triplicate. Several experiments were performed incubating the chambers for 1 h. Although a concentration effect was noted with this short incubation period, the chemotactic index was not as high as when the cells were incubated for our standard 3-h period. Therefore, the 3-h incubation was used to provide a better measurement at the different concentrations. To determine the effect of penicillamine on complement activation, experiments were done in which serum was mixed with n-penicillamine so that the final concentration of the D-penicillamine was 400 mg/liter. This was the maximum concentration used in the phagocytosis and chemotaxis experiments. This mixture was then incubated at 37°C for 75 min along with a control in which HBSS was added in the same volume. Measurements of total hemolytic complement activity (CHO) were made after the incubation. Five separate sera were used for these experiments. To determine the effect on complement by prolonged in vitro exposure to D-penicillamine, normal human serum was mixed with varying concentrations of D-penicillamine and incubated up to 72 h at 37°C. Aliquots were taken at 24-h intervals. The treated serum was then mixed with aggregated F-II for the induction of chemotactic factors from the penicillamine exposed complement. Each run at the different concentrations was performed using the same sera. The concentrations of penicillamine used were the control (0 concentration), 5 mg/liter, 10 mg/liter, 25 mg/liter, and 50 mg/liter. Statistical analysis for these studies were done using the Wilcoxon signed rank sum test for paired replicates. When unpaired tests were used the Wilcoxon rank sum test was used. P values of 0.05 or less were considered significant for these experiments. A regression line was fitted to the mean responses (in log chemotactic index units) at the various concentrations for both the D-penicillamine and cysteine. The analysis for the effects of D-penicillamine and Dcysteine on chemotaxis was performed by analysis of variance.

RESULTS Table I shows the results obtained in studies of the chemotaxis of PMN with concentrations ranging from


Effect of D-Penicillamine on Chemotaxis of PMN Chemotactic index n


Agg IgG*


30 13 16 30 30 17 15

0 12.5 25 50 100 200 400

Agg IgG + C

.llean d:SE.1I

76± 10 75±11 63±10 74±10 73±-9 66410 59±8


426±56 6034±103 519483 319±43 243 ±31 190±38 175±48

The effect of D-penicillamine on polymorphonuclear leukocyte function.

The Effect of D-Penicillamine Leukocyte Function on Polymorphonuclear HANNA CHwALINsKA-SADowsKA and JoHN BAUM From the Arthritis and Clinical Immun...
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