autofluorescence and drugs

Howard Shapiro hms at
Sat Aug 12 20:23:55 EST 2000

Jenny Bryant (to whom g'day) writes-

>I have just tested a patient on antiretroviral therapy whose cells
>fluoresced to the extent that compensation was impossible.   This has
>prompted 2 questions,
>1.      Does anyone know of a list of drugs (prescribed or "recreational")
>which cause this phenomenon?

The classic drug which produced fluorescent leukocytes in vivo was
quinacrine, used as atabrine or atebrin for malaria treatment and
prophylaxis from at least the 1940's on.  One vivid memory from my early
youth is of a colleague of my father's returning from service in the
Pacific and dropping by for a visit - he was bright orange.  I recall
seeing a publication from the 1940's on fluorescence of leukocytes taken
from individuals taking the drug; I couldn't dig up the reference.

Some other fairly fluorescent materials (cyanines and related compounds)
are used to treat protozoan and helminthic infections, but I'm not sure
whether they render leukocytes fluorescent.  And people who ingest huge
amounts of carotenoids also turn yellow-orange; their leukocytes might
fluoresce as well, as might cells from people who take megadoses of
riboflavin. Any handle on the spectrum of the fluorescence?

>2.      How do you deal with these patients? Do you lyse and wash before
>staining?  If so, how would this effect your results?

The drugs I'm talking about - and most others which would not bind
covalently to materials in or on cells - could presumably be washed out.


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