Serosal complications of single-agent low-dose methotrexate used in gestational trophoblastic diseases: first reported case of methotrexate-induced peritonitis

Br J Cancer. 1999 Nov;81(6):1037-41. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6690804.


Methotrexate (MTX) is a folate antagonist widely used both as an anticancer drug and as an immunosupressant. Administration of an 8-day methotrexate and folinic acid regime may be associated with pleuritic chest pain and pneumonitis. We have reviewed the toxicity seen in 168 consecutive patients treated with low-dose MTX for persistent trophoblastic disease. Twenty-five per cent of patients developed serosal symptoms, pleurisy was the commonest complaint. The majority of patients had mild to moderate symptoms which were controlled with simple analgesia and did not necessitate a change in treatment; 11.9% had severe symptoms which necessitated a change in treatment. One patient developed a pericardial effusion and a second patient developed severe reversible peritoneal irritation. The possible aetiology and pathophysiology of methotrexate-induced serosal toxicity is discussed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects*
  • Pericarditis / chemically induced*
  • Peritonitis / chemically induced*
  • Pleurisy / chemically induced*
  • Pregnancy
  • Serositis / chemically induced
  • Trophoblastic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Leucovorin
  • Methotrexate