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Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017 Sep;49(5):220-224. doi: 10.23822/EurAnnACI.1764-1489.11.

Hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of anti-histamine refractory chronic spontaneous urticaria, randomized single-blinded placebo-controlled trial and an open label comparison study.

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Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, Phramongkutklao Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand. Phone: +66 2354 7614 Fax: +66 2763 3278 E-mail:
Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of Medicine, Phramongkutklao Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand.


Background. The management of anti-histamine refractory chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) has poorly defined therapeutic options. Some patients with CSU respond poorly to a fourfold increase in dosage of H1-anti-histamines treatment. Aim. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of an adjunct treatment of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) on remission rate and reduction of urticarial symptoms. Methods. Sixty subjects with anti-histamine refractory CSU were randomly assigned to 400 mg of HCQ daily or placebo for 12 weeks in a single blind placebo controlled trial. In a second follow up trial, non-remission subjects were offered open-label HCQ in the placebo group or a leukotriene receptor antagonist (LTRA) in the HCQ group for 12 weeks. All subjects took 4 H1-anti-histamines tablets throughout the study. The endpoints measured were the urticarial symptom score (USS) and dermatology life quality index (DLQI). Results. Forty-eight patients (24 HCQ, 24 placebos) completed the randomized trial medication. Five of 24 on HCQ treatment but none on placebo had a remission at 12 weeks (P = 0.01). There was a low proportion of therapeutic failures occurred with 12-week HCQ treatment (n = 5) compared with placebo (n = 14, P = 0.001). After 12 weeks, USS and DLQI significantly improved in HCQ group over the placebo group. Forty non-remission subjects completed an open-label HCQ (n = 22) or LTRA (n = 18) comparison study. The remission rates on HCQ and LTRA were 22.72% and 5.55% at 12 weeks. However, no significant difference between the two groups in the therapeutic responses was observed. The mean USS on HCQ significantly decreased compared to the LTRA group, but there was no significant difference in DLQI. The adverse events reported were minimal and there were no subjects who discontinued the trial. Conclusions. This study suggests that HCQ is clinically effective as an adjunct treatment for CSU.


anti-histamine refractory; chronic urticaria; hydroxychloroquine; leukotriene receptor antagonist; montelukast; randomized controlled trial

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