A review of controlled clinical trials examining the effects of antimalarial compounds and gold compounds on radiographic progression in rheumatoid arthritis

J Rheumatol. 2000 Feb;27(2):523-9.


At least 8 randomized controlled clinical trials have examined the effects of chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine on radiographic progression in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). At least 12 randomized controlled trials have examined the effects of either intramuscular or oral gold on radiographic progression. A review of these studies shows that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have minimal, if any, inhibitory effects on radiographically documented progression of bone erosions and joint destruction when used to treat RA. Intramuscular gold (with most of the data from studies of sodium aurothiomalate) appears to be better than placebo, about equal to intramuscular methotrexate (MTX), but probably not as effective as cyclophosphamide or azathioprine in its effects on radiographic progression. Auranofin appears to be better than placebo, comparable to or perhaps moderately less effective than intramuscular gold, comparable to lower dose oral MTX (7.5 mg/week), and not as effective as higher dose oral MTX (7.5-15 mg/wk) in inhibiting radiographic progression in RA. The inhibitory effects of gold compounds on proinflammatory cytokine synthesis (especially interleukin 1) offer a plausible mechanism for their inhibitory effects on bone erosion and joint destruction in RA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Gold Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Radiography
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antimalarials
  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Gold Compounds