OBJECTIVE--To follow the change in streptokinase neutralisation titres in a group of patients after treatment with streptokinase for acute myocardial infarction. DESIGN--Venous blood samples suitable for analysis were obtained up to 866 days after treatment with 1.5 million units of streptokinase in 189 patients. The ability of the patient's plasma to inhibit lysis of a thrombin clot by streptokinase was assessed. SETTING--A coronary care unit in a district general hospital. PATIENTS--A retrospective review of coronary care records and the district health authority computer showed that 329 patients who had received streptokinase were alive. All were invited for venepuncture and 220 (67%) attended. Satisfactory samples were obtained from 189 patients. RESULTS--Raised titres of antibody sufficient to neutralise a standard dose of 1.5 million units of streptokinase were found in 90% of patients. There was a fall in streptokinase neutralisation titre with increasing time after administration of streptokinase (r = -0.35, P < 0.0001) and though there was considerable variation among the group the neutralisation titre was higher than in the general population in all patients, even those who had received streptokinase at least two years previously. CONCLUSION--The ability of streptokinase to lyse a thrombin clot was appreciably inhibited in vitro by the plasma from patients who had received 1.5 million units of streptokinase. High streptokinase neutralisation titres persisted for a long time after the use of streptokinase as thrombolytic treatment for acute myocardial infarction. Readministration of streptokinase may not be efficacious for considerably longer than the one year currently advocated. Until the in vivo effects of streptokinase readministration are known a non-antigenic thrombolytic agent should be used instead.
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