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Pan Afr Med J. 2014 Jun 19;18:165. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2014.18.165.2080. eCollection 2014.

Successful treatment of massive ascites due to lupus peritonitis with hydroxychloroquine in old- onset lupus erythematosus.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Fattouma Bourguiba Universitary Hospital, Monastir, Tunisia.
Department of Hepathology and Gastroenterology, Fattouma Bourguiba Universitary Hospital, Monastir, Tunisia.


Systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) is an auto-immune disease with multiple organ involvements that occurs mainly in young women. Literature data suggest that serositis is more frequent in late-onset SLE. However, peritoneal serositis with massive ascites is an extremely rare manifestation. We report a case of old-onset lupus peritonitis treated successfully by Hydroxychloroquine. A 77-year-old Tunisian woman was hospitalized because of massive painful ascites. Her family history did not include any autoimmune disease. She was explored 4 years prior to admission for exudative pleuritis of the right lung without any established diagnosis. Physical examination showed only massive ascites. Laboratory investigations showed leucopenia: 3100/mm3, lymphopenia: 840/mm3 and trace protein (0.03 g/24 h). Ascitic fluid contained 170 cells mm(3) (67% lymphocytes), 46 g/L protein, but no malignant cells. The main etiologies of exudative ascites were excluded. She had markedly elevated anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) titer of 1/1600 and a significantly elevated titer of antibody to double-stranded DNA (83 IU/mL) with hypo-complementemia (C3 levl was at 67 mg/dL). Antibody against the Smith antigen was also positive. Relying on these findings, the patient was diagnosed with SLE and treated with Hydroxychloroquine 200 mg daily in combination with diuretics. One month later, there was no detectable ascitic fluid and no pleural effusions. Five months later she remained free from symptoms while continuing to take chloroquine. This case was characterized by old age of onset of SLE, the extremely rare initial presentation with lupus peritonitis and massive painful ascites with dramatic response to only hydroxychloroquine treatment.


Ascites; Hydroxychloroquine; Old-onset; systemic lupus erythematosus

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