Objective: To assess the efficacy of low-dose oral methotrexate (MTX) therapy for children with severe iritis.
Methods: MTX in a weekly dose of 7.25 to 12.5 mg/m2 was administered orally to four patients (two with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis [JRA] and two with sarcoidosis) with severe iritis not adequately controlled by topical and systemic corticosteroid therapy. The treatment was initiated with half of the total dose and increased every 2 weeks until the final dose was reached. Iritis was graded from 0 to +4 according to the density of cells in the anterior chamber of the eye.
Results: There were three girls and one boy with a mean age of 10.5 years. Two patients were African American and two were Caucasian. The mean age at onset of iritis was 6 years. The mean duration of MTX therapy was 28.8 months. Significant improvement was noted in two of the four patients in ocular inflammation, demonstrated by reduction of cell density from +4 to +1. Two patients had a mild improvement of the iritis. However, corticosteroids were significantly reduced in all patients. One patient was completely off steroids within 30 months of MTX therapy. In the remaining three cases, the steroid dose was successfully tapered from 0.82 mg/kg/d to 0.15 mg/kg/d (mean doses) within a mean duration of 20 months. No side effects were observed with MTX therapy.
Conclusion: Low-dose MTX therapy was effective and safe, and displayed steroid-sparing properties in four children with severe iritis.