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Drug Saf. 2001;24(14):1055-63.

Antimalarial drugs in systemic lupus erythematosus: use in pregnancy.

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University of Connecticut, Farmington, Connecticut, USA.


The 4-aminoquinoline radical containing antimalarial drugs are also used in the management of various connective tissue diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis. These agents are particularly useful for the management of inflammatory polyarthritis and skin disease. By raising the pH in intracellular compartments, these drugs interfere with normal phagocytic function which consequently enables them to interfere with antigen processing. Other actions include inhibition of platelet aggregation, this is advantageous in patients with phospholipid antibodies (aPL) which are known to predispose patients to recurrent arterial and venous clinical thrombotic events. Hydroxychloroquine has also been demonstrated to reduce serum lipid levels including cholesterol, triglycerides and low density lipoproteins. As it is now known that patients with SLE are at risk for accelerated artherogenesis and premature heart disease, this action may be an added benefit for these patients. The use of the 4-aminoquinoline radical containing antimalarial drugs during pregnancy is controversial. It is known that these agents can cross the placenta and are deposited in fetal pigmented tissues. These findings have led to the recommendation that these agents should be discontinued in pregnancy for patients with connective tissue diseases even though they have long been recommended for malarial prophylaxis in pregnant women travelling to malarial infested areas. Flares of SLE disease have been documented when these agents are discontinued and as flares of SLE disease activity are known to be detrimental to pregnancy outcome in patients with SLE, it is our opinion that these drugs should not be discontinued during pregnancy in a patient with lupus, particularly when the known terminal elimination half life is 1 to 2 months.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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