Background Based on the potential involvement of Toll-like receptor (TLR) signalling in the pathogenesis of neonatal lupus (NL), it was hypothesised that fetal exposure to hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), a TLR inhibitor, might reduce the risk of anti-SSA/Ro/SSB/La antibody-associated cardiac manifestations of NL (cardiac-NL).
Methods Cardiac-NL children (N=50) and controls (N=151) were drawn from the following overlapping pregnancy studies: Research Registry for NL; PR Interval and Dexamethasone Evaluation in Cardiac-NL; and Predictors of Pregnancy Outcomes: Biomarkers in Antiphospholipid Syndrome and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Pregnancies met the following inclusion criteria: documentation of maternal anti-SSA/Ro/SSB/La antibodies at pregnancy, confirmation of medication use and child's outcome, a diagnosis of SLE before pregnancy and birth by 31 December 2007.
Results Seven (14%) of the cardiac-NL children were exposed to HCQ compared with 56 (37%) of the controls (p=0.002; OR 0.28; 95% CI 0.12 to 0.63). Cases and controls were similar with respect to demographic and antibody status. Multivariable analysis adjusting for birth year, maternal race/ethnicity, antibody status, non-fluorinated steroid use and prior cardiac-NL risk yielded an OR associated with HCQ use of 0.46 (95% CI 0.18 to 1.18; p=0.10).
Conclusion This case–control study suggests that, in mothers with SLE with anti-SSA/Ro/SSB/La antibodies, exposure to HCQ during pregnancy may decrease the risk of fetal development of cardiac-NL. Prospective studies are needed for confirmation.
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