The antimalarial drug chloroquine (Aralen) reduced the frequency of metabolic syndrome in young adult premenopausal systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients by 71%, even in patients on glucocorticoids, researchers from Brazil wrote in Arthritis Care & Research.

Dr. Luciana F. Muniz and her associates at the University of São Paulo selected 103 premenopausal SLE patients younger than 40 years old and compared them with 35 healthy premenopausal age-matched females. They observed a higher frequency of metabolic syndrome (22.3% vs. 5.7%; P = .03) in the SLE group and noted that the prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased by 2% for each increase of 1 g of cumulative prednisone dose.

“The underlying mechanism for this beneficial effect may be associated with the reported chloroquine improvement in lipid and glucose metabolism in SLE by lowering blood glucose, increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering synthesis of cholesterol, and increasing LDL uptake.

“In fact, in the present study, use of chloroquine reduced the prevalence of metabolic syndrome even in SLE patients taking steroids and this benefit was greater the higher the cumulative dose of prednisone.”

In patients with SLE, metabolic syndrome is associated with a worse outcome, including higher SLE Disease Activity Index scores, more frequently past and current renal disease, and both higher current prednisone dose and cumulative prednisone dose

Read the full article here: Arthritis Research 2015 ( doi:10.1002/acr.22593 )