Efficacy and safety of chloroquine plus prednisone for the treatment of autoimmune hepatitis in a randomized trial

Lydia T de Moraes Falcão, Debora R.B. Terrabuio, Marcio A. Diniz, Andreia da Silva Evangelista, Fabricio G. Souza, Eduardo L. R Cancado

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4 Scopus citations


Background and Aim: Standard treatment for autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) consists of predniso(lo)ne and azathioprine. However, alternative therapy is required for non- or partial responders and in cases of side effects. The aim of this study was to evaluate the treatment outcomes associated with chloroquine plus prednisone in AIH patients. Methods: Fifty-seven patients were recruited to receive either azathioprine or chloroquine, both with prednisone, in a randomized trial. The primary end-point was complete remission, based on normalization of aminotransferase levels in the first 6 months of treatment plus maintenance for at least 18 months, with minimal or no inflammatory activity in the liver biopsy. Secondary end-points were partial and nonresponse, severe side effects, and treatment withdrawal. Results: There were no differences between groups regarding clinical, serological, histological, and treatment characteristics at baseline. There were no significant differences in the biochemical response rate (67.7 vs 53.8%, P = 0.41) or the complete remission rate (32.26 vs 15.38%, P = 0.217). However, despite the long study period, the sample size was smaller than that required for a noninferiority study. The mean prednisone dose was similar in both groups. There was a nonsignificantly higher rate of adverse effects and a tendency toward improvement in glycemic and cholesterol profiles in the chloroquine group (P = 0.09 and P = 0.07, respectively). Conclusions: The combination of chloroquine and prednisone exhibited potentially beneficial effects in AIH patients (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02463331).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-377
Number of pages7
JournalJGH Open
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • antimalarial drug
  • autoimmune hepatitis
  • chloroquine
  • remission


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