Innate immune responses may be involved in the earliest phases of type 1 diabetes (T1D).


To test whether blocking innate immaune cells modulated progression of the disease, we randomly assigned 273 individuals with stage 1 T1D to treatment with hydroxychloroquine (n = 183; 5 mg/kg per day to a maximum of 400 mg) or placebo (n = 90) and assessed whether hydroxychloroquine treatment delayed or prevented progression to stage 2 T1D (i.e., two or more islet autoantibodies with abnormal glucose tolerance).


After a median follow-up of 23.3 months, the trial was stopped prematurely by the data safety monitoring board because of futility. There were no safety concerns in the hydroxychloroquine arm, including in annual ophthalmologic examinations. Preplanned secondary analyses showed a transient decrease in the glucose average area under the curve to oral glucose in the hydroxychloroquine-treated arm at month 6 and reduced titers of anti-GAD and anti-insulin autoantibodies and acquisition of positive autoantibodies in the hydroxychloroquine arm (P = 0.032).


We conclude that hydroxychloroquine does not delay progression to stage 2 T1D in individuals with stage 1 disease. Drug treatment reduces the acquisition of additional autoantibodies and the titers of autoantibodies to GAD and insulin.

Clinical trial reg. no. NCT03428945, clinicaltrials.gov

This article contains supplementary material online at https://doi.org/10.2337/figshare.24045612.

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