Immunomodulatory Therapy Reduces the Severity of Placental Lesions in Chronic Histiocytic Intervillositis

Chloe A. Brady, Charlotte Williams, Gauri Batra, Elaine Church, Clare L. Tower, Ian P. Crocker, Alexander E. P. Heazell

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Chronic histiocytic intervillositis (CHI) is a rare, but highly recurrent inflammatory placental lesion wherein maternal macrophages infiltrate the intervillous space. Pregnancies with CHI are at high risk of fetal growth restriction, miscarriage or stillbirth. Presently, the diagnosis can only be made after histopathological examination of the placenta. Given its proposed immunological etiology, current treatments include aspirin, heparin, and immunomodulatory agents. However, the rationale for these medications is largely based upon small case series and reports as there is a lack of larger studies investigating treatment efficacy. Therefore, this study sought to determine whether inclusion of immunomodulatory medications was effective at reducing the severity of lesions and improving pregnancy outcomes in subsequent pregnancies. Thirty-three women with a history of CHI in at least one pregnancy (index case) were identified retrospectively through medical records. Twenty-eight participants presented with a first subsequent pregnancy and a further 11 with a second subsequent pregnancy at a specialist clinic for pregnancy after loss. Data on maternal demographics, medical history, medication, pregnancy outcome, and placental pathology was collected and compared between pregnancies. Twenty-seven (69%) subsequent pregnancies were treated with at least one or both of prednisolone and hydroxychloroquine. Inclusion of at least one immunomodulatory agent in treatment regimen resulted in an almost 25% increase in overall livebirth rate (61.5 vs. 86.2%). In women treated with immunomodulatory medication a greater proportion of placentas had reduced severity of lesions compared to those treated without (86.7 vs. 33.3%, respectively). A reduction in CHI severity was associated with a 62.3% improvement in livebirth rate compared to those where severity remained unchanged in relation to the index case. These data provide preliminary evidence that the use of immunomodulatory medication in the management of CHI improves histopathological lesions and the chance of livebirth in subsequent pregnancies. Due to CHI's rarity and ethical and feasibility issues, randomized controlled trials in affected women are challenging to conduct. As a result, collaboration between centers is required in future to increase study sample sizes and elucidate the mechanisms of hydroxychloroquine and prednisolone in reducing pathology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2021


  • placental histopathology
  • prednisolone
  • hydroxychloroquine
  • stillbirth
  • treatment
  • miscarriage
  • outcomes


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