Inflammation is a hallmark in the pathogenesis of pulmonary destruction in cystic fibrosis (CF). There is no proven effective systemic anti-inflammatory treatment for CF patients with advanced pulmonary disease. Methotrexate (MTX) is known as an effective anti-inflammatory treatment in asthma and in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The question was: Is an improvement in pulmonary function achievable with low-dose MTX in patients with cystic fibrosis and advanced pulmonary disease.?
Methods: We treated five CF patients with advanced pulmonary disease, who deteriorated in spite of intensive conventional therapy on an individual basis with low-dose MTX. FEV1% and immunoglobulin G (IgG) serum levels were followed from the year before to the year after starting with MTX.
Results: In the year before starting with MTX, FEV1% decreased (median: 10% FEV1; range 9-15% FEV1; P<0.005) after starting with MTX, FEV1% increased (median: 9% FEV1; range: 2-15% FEV1; P<0.05). IgG changed (median: -2 g/l; range: 0.2 to -7.3 g/l) in the first year with MTX.
Conclusion: These preliminary data suggest a beneficial effect of MTX even in advanced pulmonary disease in CF patients and supports the need for a controlled prospective study.