Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory drug that helps treat autoimmune and rheumatic diseases, such as ankylosing spondylitis.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic joint disease that
It usually develops in people under the age of
In this article, we will take a closer look at hydroxychloroquine and what older research says about its use for AS.
Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) is an anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory drug.
Doctors prescribe it to manage autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
It helps treat autoimmune diseases by
The drug is
There is not much research on whether hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for AS.
However, evidence shows that the drug is effective in treating RA, a
Like RA, ankylosing spondylitis involves chronic inflammation. Cytokines
A doctor will advise a person on the specific dose.
Hydroxychloroquine takes effect gradually. It can take between 6 and 12 weeks before people experience an improvement in symptoms.
- gastrointestinal distress
- hair loss
- skin hyperpigmentation
- agranulocytosis, which makes people vulnerable to infection
- aplastic anemia, a condition that damages stem cells in a person’s bone marrow
- leukopenia, which is a low number of white blood cells
- low platelet count
- transaminitis, which refers to atypically high levels of a family of enzymes called transaminases
Another uncommon but serious side effect is retinopathy, which can lead to vision loss. People taking the drug long term should get regular eye exams.
People with existing heart conditions and a higher risk of retinopathy may need to take additional precautions when taking hydroxychloroquine.
They can discuss with a doctor whether the drug is a suitable option for them and whether the risks outweigh the benefits.
People should always speak with a doctor when considering a new treatment plan and let them know of any existing conditions, such as heart or vision issues.
Research is ongoing into hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for inflammatory conditions such as AS. The exact mechanism of the drug remains unclear.
While doctors consider it an effective treatment for RA, there is little research into the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for AS.
Research suggests the drug is relatively safe when a person takes it over a long period to treat rheumatic diseases. This indicates that hydroxychloroquine could be an effective tool for managing AS.