2 patients treated with penicillin and ampicillin, respectively, suffered from haemorrhagic diathesis, haemolysis, cerebral symptoms and renal insufficiency, resembling a haemolytic-uraemic syndrome. Their plasma was red due to the presence during several days of haemoglobin-haptoglobin complexes, the P-haemoglobin being 2.8 and 1.6 g/l, respectively. Coagulation tests showed an unusual pattern with prolonged activated partial thrombo-plastin times, an extremely long thrombin time and very high levels of fibrinogen degradation products. Repeated transfusion had no effect. The patients were considered to have developed a drug-induced serum sickness associated with insufficient function of the reticuloendothelial system, and secondary to this an accumulation of haemoglobin-haptoglobin complexes in plasma. When the penicillin drugs were discontinued, all measured variables rapidly normalised and the patients recovered completely. Thus, the haemolytic-uraemic syndrome seemed to be caused by the serum sickness, possibly via circulating or cell-associated immune complexes. The possibility of a type III allergic reaction should be considered in patients with haemolytic-uraemic-like syndromes.

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