Evaluation of antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody seroconversion induced by minocycline, sulfasalazine, or penicillamine

Arthritis Rheum. 2000 Nov;43(11):2488-92. doi: 10.1002/1529-0131(200011)43:11<2488::AID-ANR16>3.0.CO;2-X.


Objective: Case reports have suggested that minocycline, sulfasalazine, and penicillamine are associated with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-positive vasculitis. This study evaluated ANCA seroconversion due to these agents in serum samples prospectively collected in randomized, double-blind, controlled trials.

Methods: The sources of study sera were 3 clinical trials: 1) a 48-week trial of minocycline for early rheumatoid arthritis, with 64 patients receiving minocycline compared with 68 receiving placebo; 2) a 37-week trial of sulfasalazine for rheumatoid arthritis, with 51 receiving sulfasalazine compared with 38 receiving placebo; and 3) a 104-week trial of penicillamine for early systemic sclerosis, with 15 undergoing high-dose penicillamine treatment versus 12 receiving low-dose penicillamine. ANCA were measured in the baseline and study-end serum samples by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) for perinuclear ANCA (pANCA) and cytoplasmic ANCA (cANCA) patterns, and by antigen-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for antibodies to myeloperoxidase (anti-MPO) and proteinase 3 (anti-PR3). Laboratory personnel were blinded to the group identity of the samples. ANCA results were interpreted using an ANCA scoring system that combines the results of IIF and ELISA testing.

Results: No patient in any of the active study drug groups demonstrated ANCA seroconversion according to the final interpretation of the combined IIF and ELISA results. Twelve of the 248 patients (5%) were positive for anti-MPO with pANCA at baseline. No subject was positive for anti-PR3 with cANCA. There were no findings suggestive of vasculitis in any of these patients.

Conclusion: From our study results, there was no suggestion of ANCA seroconversion induced by minocycline, sulfasalazine, or penicillamine. However, these findings do not rule out the possibility of rare, sporadic cases of either ANCA seroconversion or true drug-induced vasculitis with these drugs.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic / blood*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Minocycline / adverse effects*
  • Penicillamine / adverse effects*
  • Sulfasalazine / adverse effects*
  • Vasculitis / chemically induced*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antibodies, Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Minocycline
  • Penicillamine