The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) supports a range of clinical trials studying new and existing interventions for prevention and treatment of arthritis, musculoskeletal, and skin diseases.  Recruitment for this clinical trial complete.   Updates will be made  to this page when the study completes data analysis and results become available. Please check back often and find out how these studies have contributed to generating new knowledge about diseases and conditions within the NIAMS mission area.

Click on Main Page to learn more about actively recruiting research studies for which you or someone you know may be eligible.

Study Description

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) causes major organ damage and shortens lifespan in relatively young persons. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to improving outcomes for SLE patients. However, evidence-based approaches to early treatment interventions and the appropriate target population for these interventions are not available. We propose that individuals who have positivity for antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) and who also exhibit some of the other features that are used to classify SLE, are at high risk of progressing to the full systemic form of this disease. These individuals, who have significant levels of ANA with 1 or 2 additional items from the lupus classification criteria, are considered to have incomplete lupus erythematosus (ILE).

The primary objective is to determine whether HCQ treatment can prevent acquisition of additional clinical and immunologic features that define SLE.  The secondary objectives are to determine whether HCQ treatment 1) lessens lupus disease activity as measured by standard scoring indices, 2) improves patient-reported outcomes, 3) prevents accumulation of immunologic abnormalities including autoantibodies and cytokines, and 4) has an acceptable toxicity profile.

The specific aims of this proposal are:

1) To carry out a double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter, randomized trial of HCQ vs. placebo in patients with ILE. The study tests the hypothesis that early use of HCQ can modify disease features so that accumulation of abnormalities leading to a classification of SLE can be significantly slowed.

2) To determine effects of HCQ on disease activity and patient-reported outcomes in patients with ILE.

3) To characterize the immunologic profile of HCQ in ILE-treated patients. Autoantibodies, cytokines and chemokines will be measured on multiplex arrays for developing insights into underlying mechanisms.

4) To quantitatively assess the incidence of ophthalmologic toxicity in HCQ-treated ILE patients. All enrolled patients will have standardized ophthalmologic examinations before and after study treatment. Recommendations for use and monitoring in this patient population will be developed.

This trial will determine whether or not HCQ should be given to ILE patients, will provide insights into the appropriate target population, and will propose candidate biomarkers to guide treatment decisions.


Ages Eligible for Study:           15 Years to 45 Years   (Child, Adult)

Sexes Eligible for Study:          All

Accepts Healthy Volunteers:  No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Between 15 and 45 years of age, inclusive, at Visit 1.
  • Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) titer of 1:80, or greater, as determined by immunofluorescence assay (IFA).
  • Participants must have at least one (but not three or more) additional clinical or laboratory criterion from the 2012 Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) classification criteria.
  • Written informed consent (and assent when applicable) obtained from subject or subject's legal representative and ability for subject to comply with the requirements of the study.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • The subject meets the 2012 SLICC classification criteria for SLE at Visit 1 (i.e., ANA plus 3 other criteria, or ANA plus biopsy-proven lupus nephritis).
  • The subject has been diagnosed with another autoimmune disorder, other than autoimmune thyroid conditions.
  • The subject has fibromyalgia, based on clinical history and exam.
  • The subject has previously been or is currently being treated with oral antimalarial agents including hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, or quinacrine.
  • The subject is currently or has been treated with immunosuppressive, immune modifying, or cytotoxic medications as listed in Section 7.2.
  • Use of any investigational agent within the preceding 12 months.
  • History of primary immunodeficiency.
  • Active bacterial, viral, fungal, or opportunistic infection.
  • Evidence of infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C.
  • Concomitant malignancy or history of malignancy with the exception of adequately treated basal or squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, or carcinoma in situ of the cervix.
  • The subject has significant findings on ophthalmological examination that, in the opinion of the examining Ophthalmologist, prevent safe use of hydroxychloroquine.
  • The subject has other contraindications to treatment with hydroxychloroquine including pre-existing ocular disease, hepatic impairment, psoriasis, porphyria, or allergy to the drug or class.
  • Co-morbidities requiring systemic corticosteroid therapy greater than 10 mg of prednisone per day, or equivalent, or a change in corticosteroid dose within the 3 months prior to Visit 1.
  • Starting, stopping, or changing the dose of over the counter or prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the three months prior to Visit 1.
  • Pregnant, breastfeeding, or unwilling to practice birth control during participation in the study.
  • Presence of a condition or abnormality that in the opinion of the Investigator would compromise the safety of the patient or the quality of the data.
  • Inability to comply with the study visit schedule and procedures.

Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized

Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment

Masking: Quadruple (Participant, Care Provider, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)

Primary Purpose: Prevention

Study Location(s):

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, United States, 90048

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, 73104

Penn State MS Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States, 17033

Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, United States, 29425

UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, United States, 75390

Study Website:

Last Updated: