Objective: To assess vertebral bone mineral density (BMD) changes in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients taking low-dose methotrexate (MTX).
Methods: We evaluated in a 2-year, longitudinal study female RA patients, who had recently started a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), divided into two groups: group A, receiving MTX, and group B, receiving other DMARDs. Lumbar spine BMD was assessed at baseline and every year; RA activity was assessed every 3 months.
Results: Sixty-two patients were enrolled in the study; 40 completed the follow-up period: 22 of group A, and 18 of group B. The results after 2 years showed that both groups lost bone significantly vs baseline (p < 0.001) in a comparable fashion: group A (mean +/- SD) -3.9 +/- 4.9% vs group B -3.0 +/- 3.7% (p = NS). The patients who showed active disease lost significantly (p < 0.05) more bone (-5.5 +/- 3.8%) than those with less active disease (-1.1 +/- 3.6%), independently of their DMARD.
Conclusion: Low-dose MTX in RA does not seem to exert relevant effects on trabecular bone.