Drug-induced systemic lupus erythematosus arises from toxic side-effects of administration of hydralazine, isoniazid, procainamide and practolol. Hydralazine and isoniazid are nucleophilic drugs and inhibit the covalent binding reaction of complement components, C3 and C4, an effect likely to lead to deposition of immune complexes (a feature of systemic lupus erythematosus). Procainamide and practolol do not themselves inhibit C3 and C4. A range of metabolites and putative metabolites of procainamide and practolol were synthesized, and tested for their ability to inhibit the covalent binding reactions of C3 and C4. The highly nucleophilic hydroxylamine metabolite of procainamide was strongly inhibitory in both tests, as was a putative hydroxylamine metabolite of practolol. These studies indicate a potential role for the hydroxylamine metabolites in mediating the toxic side-effects of procainamide and practolol, and emphasize the need for adequate measurements of hydroxylamine metabolites in human tissue.

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