Treating pregnant women with lupus and the related disorder antiphospholipid syndrome with a combination of anti-malaria drugs may prevent pregnancy complications such as recurrent pregnancy loss and preeclampsia, says a new study published in the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissues including a developing unborn baby. Antiphospholipid syndrome is a related autoimmune disorder that causes pregnancy-related complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery, and severe preeclampsia.
Patients with lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome are frequently treated with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil, Axemal, Dolquine, Quensyl) reduces inflammation in lupus patients as well as in patients with rheumatic disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s Syndrome.
Although the drug is safe to use during pregnancy, research was lacking on whether hydroxychloroquine would be beneficial in preventing pregnancy complications in women with lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome.
In the present study, researchers led by Vikki M. Abrahams — an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at Yale — used a lab-based system to measure the detrimental effects of antiphospholipid antibodies on human placental trophoblast cell function.
The researchers concluded that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine could treat obstetrical antiphospholipid syndrome, thus preventing pregnancy complications associated with the syndrome and lupus.
Explains Abrahams, “We found that hydroxychloroquine partially reversed some, but not all, of the detrimental effects of antiphospholipid antibodies on human placental cell function. So perhaps some form of combination therapy that includes hydroxychloroquine may be beneficial to pregnant patients with lupus and/or antiphospholipid syndrome.”
Women with lupus or antiphospholipid syndrome should speak with their health care providers about using hydroxychloroquine during pregnancy as a way to prevent potentially life-threatening complications for both baby and mother.
The study was funded by grants from the Lupus Foundation of America and the March of Dimes.
Effect of Hydroxychloroquine on Antiphospholipid Antibody-Induced Changes in First Trimester Trophoblast Function: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aji.12184/abstract
Pregnancy Complications in Lupus Patients May be Prevented by Malaria Drug Combo: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/271633.php
Pregnancy and Lupus: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1413393