The use of quinacrine (Atabrine) in rheumatic diseases: a reexamination

Semin Arthritis Rheum. 1989 May;18(4):282-96. doi: 10.1016/0049-0172(89)90050-4.


Atabrine has been available for nearly 60 years. It has a variety of actions and has been administered to millions of individuals. Its antirheumatic properties have been well documented but have not been exploited optimally for a variety of reasons. The drug is generally quite safe and could be used in low doses in lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients as a steroid-sparing agent or synergistically with hydroxychloroquine. Its bothersome side effects should not deter the clinician from using it, because they are easy to deal with or prevent (Table 5). Future studies should attempt to better characterize the immunosuppressive actions of this powerful drug, particularly in the treatment of lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies of the role of combination or single-agent antimalarial therapy in combination with other "remittive" drugs could be of great potential benefit.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Quinacrine / adverse effects
  • Quinacrine / pharmacokinetics
  • Quinacrine / therapeutic use*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Quinacrine