Hydroxychloroquine for the Treatment of Chronic Graft-Versus-Host Disease

Academic Article


  • Chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is a major complication of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. Both the disease and the medications used to treat it are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The manifestations of chronic GVHD often resemble those of autoimmune disorders. Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) is a 4-aminoquinoline antimalarial drug used for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. HCQ interferes with antigen processing and presentation, cytokine production, and cytotoxicity and is synergistic with cyclosporine and tacrolimus in vitro. Forty patients with steroid-resistant or steroid-dependent chronic GVHD were enrolled in a phase 2 trial of HCQ 800 mg (12 mg/kg) per day. Three complete responses and 14 partial responses were seen in 32 evaluable patients (53% response rate). All responders tolerated a >50% reduction in their steroid dose while receiving HCQ. Clinical response occurred at a median of 8 weeks (range, 4 to 24 weeks). No hematologic, hepatic, renal, or retinal toxicity was associated with HCQ. In light of its mechanisms of action, clinical activity for GVHD, and low toxicity profile, HCQ may be useful in a multiagent approach for the treatment of extensive chronic GVHD.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gilman AL; Chan KW; Mogul M; Morris C; Goldman FD; Boyer M; Cirenza E; Mazumder A; Gehan E; Cahill R
  • Start Page

  • 327
  • End Page

  • 334
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 3 A