Effectiveness of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine in treating selected patients with sarcoidosis with neurological involvement

Arch Neurol. 1998 Sep;55(9):1248-54. doi: 10.1001/archneur.55.9.1248.


Objective: To assess the efficacy of chloroquine (Aralen) phosphate and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) sulfate in the treatment of patients with neurosarcoidosis who either do not respond to corticosteroid therapy or develop unacceptable side effects.

Design: Retrospective study.

Setting: Sarcoidosis clinic at a university teaching hospital.

Patients: Twelve patients with biopsy-proved sarcoidosis, 6 women and 6 men ranging from 20 to 49 years of age, with neurological involvement.

Intervention: Chloroquine phosphate, 250 mg twice daily, or hydroxychloroquine sulfate, 200 mg twice daily, was administered for a period of 6 to 21 months. Patients had regular clinical evaluation, determination of serum and cerebrospinal fluid angiotensin-converting enzyme level, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, chest radiography, lung function testing, and slit-lamp examination of the eyes.

Results: Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine either stabilized symptoms or controlled neurological symptoms in 10 of 12 patients. Two patients failed to respond. Cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities, including lymphocytosis, were seen in 3 patients. Magnetic resonance imaging with gadolinium was most helpful in supporting the diagnosis of sarcoidosis and monitoring the course of the disease.

Conclusions: Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are effective in controlling neurological sarcoidosis in those patients who fail to respond to corticosteroids or develop severe side effects. Ocular toxic effects from chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine were not observed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antimalarials / adverse effects
  • Antimalarials / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Chloroquine / adverse effects
  • Chloroquine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxychloroquine / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sarcoidosis / drug therapy*
  • Sarcoidosis / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antimalarials
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Chloroquine