Drug-induced lupus: simvastatin or amiodarone? A case report in elderly

Mauro Turrin, Sergio Martinelli

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7175/cmi.v7i1.644


Reports of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) seen during treatment with amiodarone are rare in the literature. SLE or immunological abnormalities induced by treatment with statins are more frequent. In this issue we report a case of a 81-year-old male who, after a 2-year therapy with amiodarone, developed a clinical and serologic picture of drug-induced SLE (DILE). He was admitted for congestive heart failure in mechanical aortic valve prosthesis, permanent atrial fibrillation (anticoagulation with warfarin), hypercholesterolaemia, and hypothyroidism. Amiodarone was started two years earlier for polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, statin and L-thyroxine the following year. At admission he presented pleuro-pericardical effusion detected by CT-scan (also indicative of interstitial lung involvement) and echocardiography. Serological main indicative findings were: elevation of inflammatory markers, ANA (Anti-Nuclear Antibodies) titers = 1:320 (indirect immune-fluorescence – IIF – assay on HEp-2), homogeneous/fine speckled pattern, anti-dsDNA titers = 1:80 (IIF on Crithidia luciliae), negative ENA (Extractable Nuclear Antigens) and antibodies anti-citrulline, rheumatoid factor = 253 KU/l, normal C3-C4, negative HbsAg and anti-HCV, negative anticardiolipin antibodies IgG and IgM, negative anti-beta2GPI IgG and IgM. Amiodarone was discontinued and methylprednisolone was started, since the patient was severely ill. At discharge, after a month, the patient was better and pleuro-pericardical effusion was reduced. Readmitted few weeks later for bradyarithmia and worsening of dyspnoea, pericardial effusion was further reduced but he died for refractory congestive heart failure and pneumonia. Clinical picture (sierositis, neither skin nor kidney involvement), other typical side effects of amiodarone (hypothyroidism and lung interstitial pathology) and serological findings are suggestive of amiodarone-induced SLE.


Drug-induced lupus; Statins; Amiodarone; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Autoimmunity; Autoantibodies

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