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Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2010; 32: 1017–1022

Summary

Background  Patients with ulcerative colitis often receive thiopurines as immunomodulators (IMs) to maintain remission and avoid corticosteroids. If unresponsive or intolerant to these agents, patients are treated with methotrexate, an antimetabolite never assessed in paediatric ulcerative colitis.

Aim  To describe the experience with methotrexate in children with ulcerative colitis.

Methods  Thirty-two patients (median age 13.9 years) received methotrexate. Pediatric Ulcerative Colitis Activity Index (PUCAI) and use of corticosteroids were the main outcomes evaluated at baseline and at 3, 6 and 12 months.

Results  Indications to methotrexate were azathioprine unresponsiveness in 18 patients, azathioprine intolerance/toxicity in 10 and spondyloarthropathy in four. Response or remission was achieved in 72%, 63% and 50% of patients at 3, 6 and 12 months respectively. Mean PUCAI were 49.5 ± 23.3 at baseline and 32.9 ± 21.9, 29.5 ± 21.8 and 29.4 ± 19.9 at 3, 6 and 12 months respectively (P: 0.03). At the beginning of methotrexate, 16 patients (50%) received corticosteroids that were discontinued in 13 of them (81%) by 6 months. At the end of the study, 11 patients (33%) needed short courses of corticosteroids for disease relapse.

Conclusions  Methotrexate may be useful in treating children with ulcerative colitis, although large, controlled trials are warranted to define better its effectiveness.