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Auranofin (AF), a gold compound, has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for more than 40 years; however, its mechanism of action remains unknown. We revealed that AF inhibited the induction of proinflammatory proteins and their mRNAs by the inflammatory stimulants, cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase, and their upstream regulator, NF-κB. AF also activated the proteins peroxyredoxin-1, Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1, and NF-E2-related factor 2, and inhibited thioredoxin reductase, all of which are involved in oxidative or electrophilic stress under physiological conditions. Although the cell membrane was previously considered to be permeable to AF because of its hydrophobicity, the mechanisms responsible for transporting AF into and out of cells as well as its effects on the uptake and excretion of other drugs have not yet been elucidated. Antibodies for cytokines have recently been employed in the treatment of RA, which has had an impact on the use of AF. Trials to repurpose AF as a risk-controlled agent to treat cancers or infectious diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2/coronavirus disease 2019, are ongoing. Novel gold compounds are also under development as anti-cancer and anti-infection agents. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Masamichi Yamashita. Auranofin: Past to Present, and repurposing. International immunopharmacology. 2021 Dec;101(Pt B):108272

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PMID: 34731781

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