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Endogenous and Exogenous Digoxin-like Immunoreactive Substances
Impact on Therapeutic Drug Monitoring of Digoxin

Amitava Dasgupta PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/3VNP-TWFQ-HT9A-1QH8 132-140 First published online: 1 July 2002


Endogenous digoxin-like immunoreactive substance (DLIS) was first reported in volume-expanded dogs. Its presence has been confirmed in blood, urine, and other body fluids. Elevated DLIS concentrations are encountered in patients with volume-expanded conditions such as uremia, essential hypertension, liver disease, and preeclampsia. DLISs cross-react with antidigoxin antibodies and falsely elevate serum digoxin concentrations, interfering in interpretation of results for therapeutic digoxin monitoring. Falsely lower digoxin values due to the presence of DLISs have been reported. The association of DLISs with volume expansion led to speculation that they could be natriuretic hormones. Several structures have been proposed for DLISs, including nonesterified fatty acid, phospholipid, lysophospholipid, bile acid, bile salt, and steroid. Exogenous DLISs can be found in serum after ingestion of various Chinese medicines and therapy with spironolactone, canrenone, or potassium canrenoate. Like endogenous DLISs, exogenous DLISs interfere with serum digoxin assays, complicating therapeutic digoxin monitoring. However, most reported endogenous and exogenous DLISs are strongly protein-bound while digoxin is weakly protein-bound. Therefore, interference of both endogenous and exogenous DLISs in serum digoxin measurement can be eliminated by monitoring digoxin concentrations in the protein-free ultrafiltrates.

Key Words:
  • Digoxin
  • Digoxin-like immunoreactive substances
  • DLIS
  • Chinese medicines
  • Spironolactone
  • Free digoxin