Hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine and the risk of acute kidney injury in COVID-19 patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Ren Fail. 2022 Dec;44(1):415-425. doi: 10.1080/0886022X.2022.2046609.


Objectives: Hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine has been widely used as part of the standard treatment for patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine whether hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine increases the risk of acute kidney injury (AKI) in COVID-19 patients.

Methods: PubMed and Embase were searched for related publications from inception to Dec 31, 2021, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and non-randomized studies of interventions (NRSIs) comparing the risk of AKI and/or increased creatinine in COVID-19 patients receiving hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine and other controls (active treatment and placebo). We conducted separate meta-analyses for RCTs and NRSIs based on fixed-effect model, with odds ratios (ORs) being considered as effect sizes.

Results: We included 21 studies in the analysis, with 12 were RCTs. Based on the RCTs, compared to placebo, the OR was 1.19 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.86, 1.64; p = .30, n = 4, moderate quality) for AKI and 1.00 (95%CI: 0.64, 1.56; p = .99, n = 5, moderate quality) for increased creatinine for patients received hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine treatment; compared to active treatment, the odds was 1.28 (95%CI: 0.65, 2.53; p = .47, n = 2, low quality) for AKI and 0.64 (95%CI: 0.13, 3.20; p = .59, n = 1, low quality) for increased creatine. Evidence from NRSIs showed slightly increased odds of AKI, with low quality.

Conclusion: Based on current available studies which were graded as low to moderate quality, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine use is associated with increased risk of AKI or raised creatinine. Abbreviations: AKI: acute kidney injury; COVID-19: Coronavirus Disease 2019; RCT: randomized controlled trials; NRSI: non-randomized studies of interventions; OR: odds ratios; ROBIS-I: Risk Of Bias In Non-randomized Studies - of Interventions.

Keywords: COVID-19; Hydroxychloroquine; acute kidney injury; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / chemically induced*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / epidemiology*
  • Antirheumatic Agents / adverse effects*
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / adverse effects*


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Hydroxychloroquine