We investigated so-called superoxide scavenging activity (SSA) of plasma in patients with several immunological disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), polymyo-dermatomyositis (PM), progressive systemic sclerosis (PSS), myasthenia gravis (MG) and autoimmune thyroid disease (AT), using the electron paramagnetic resonance/spin trapping technique. Since carboxyethylgermanium sesquioxide, Ge-132, has been reported to modulate both the immune response and leukocyte functions, we have studied in vivo effect of Ge-132 on plasma SSA and other laboratory parameters in these disorders. The plasma SSA was significantly lower in RA, SLE, PM and PSS, but not in MG and AT, as compared with that in healthy controls. An inverse correlation was observed between plasma SSA and parameters such as erythrocytes sedimentation rates, absolute number of leukocytes, C-reactive protein and serum globulin levels. Furthermore, plasma SSA was significantly decreased in rheumatoid factor-positive patients as compared to negative patients. No correlation was observed between plasma SSA and factors such as ages, sex of patients or the other laboratory parameters, such as serum albumin, triglyceride, cholesterol, hemoglobin and serum iron levels. Patients treated with prednisolone, especially ones with RA, showed an increase of plasma SSA. It appears that Ge-132 promotes prednisolone effects. Our results indicate that a decrease in plasma SSA is not disease specific, but inversely correlates with the severity and activity of inflammation. The methodology to measure plasma SSA presented in this work provides a helpful tool for determining the actual activity of the diseases as well as in vivo studies of antiinflammatory agents.
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