Background and Aim: Methotrexate (MTX) is used as a second-line immunodulator in patients with inflammatory bowel disease when purine analogs are not tolerated or lack efficacy. High-level evidence indicates efficacy for intramuscular administration in Crohn's disease, but there are few reports of experience with subcutaneous delivery. This study aimed to evaluate the response to and tolerance of MTX where subcutaneous administration was the preferred option.
Method: The records of all patients treated with MTX were evaluated with regard to the dose, duration, response, and tolerance to MTX. Remission was defined as improvement in symptoms with no corticosteroid requirement for 3 months or ability to wean off steroids.
Results: MTX was initiated in 45 patients with Crohn's disease and 23 ulcerative colitis (median age, 46 years; range, 20–80 years; 54% men) because of intolerance (69%) or resistance (31%) to purine analogues. MTX was initiated in 74% of patients in doses of 25 mg (33) or 20 mg (17), administered by subcutaneous self-injection in 90% of subjects. Remission was achieved in 24 of 45 (53%) with Crohn's disease and 11 of 23 (48%) with ulcerative colitis. An additional four (9%) patients with Crohn's disease and three patients (13%) with ulcerative colitis demonstrated symptomatic improvement and/or ability to decrease corticosteroid dose. While nine patients ceased therapy and nine successfully reduced their doses due to intolerance, three of four patients had no adverse effects. Subcutaneous delivery was well accepted.
Conclusions: Subcutaneously administered MTX exhibits apparent efficacy, acceptance, tolerance, and safety in patients with Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis who are steroid-dependent and where purine analogs have been ineffective or intolerable.