Objective: To study maintenance therapy after achievement of the lowest possible disease activity in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) without major organ manifestations. Methods: We retrospectively evaluated patients with SLE who visited our hospital from Jan 2015 to Feb 2018 and were taking prednisolone (PSL) < 10 mg/day. After excluding those with neuropsychiatric SLE or severe lupus nephritis, patients were divided into four groups according to their maintenance monotherapy treatment, namely, prednisolone (PSL), immunosuppressant (IS), hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), and no drugs. The groups were then compared with regard to cumulative flare rate and changes in SLE Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI). Results: There were 47 patients on PSL, 10 on IS, 5 on HCQ, and 11 on no drugs. Flare rate was higher in the no drug group, and no patients with the IS or HCQ group experienced a flare (p = 0.003). A reduction in SLEDAI was only seen in the IS and HCQ groups (p = 0.05 and p = 0.03, respectively). There were no differences in adverse events among groups during the study period. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the cessation of all drugs is associated with disease flare for SLE patients without major organ manifestations. IS or HCQ monotherapy might be a reasonable maintenance strategy comparing with steroid monotherapy.Key Point• Immunosuppressant or hydroxychloroquine monotherapy appears to be a reasonable maintenance strategy.
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