Acute and chronic suppression of leukotriene B4 synthesis ex vivo in neutrophils from patients with rheumatoid arthritis beginning treatment with methotrexate

Arthritis Rheum. 1992 Apr;35(4):376-84. doi: 10.1002/art.1780350403.


Objective: To compare the cumulative effects of oral methotrexate (MTX) therapy (after 6-8 weeks) with the acute effects (24 hours after a dose) on arachidonic acid metabolism by the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) pathway in neutrophils from patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who were beginning therapy with MTX.

Methods: Neutrophils and monocytes were isolated from whole blood from 7 patients with RA, immediately before and 24 hours after their first weekly dose of 7.5 mg of MTX, and again after their dose at 6-8 weeks.

Results: Total immunoreactive leukotriene B4 (LTB4) formation in neutrophils activated ex vivo with calcium ionophore A23187 was significantly suppressed (by 33%) before the 6-8-week dose, compared with the level before the first dose (mean +/- SEM 8.29 +/- 1.24 ng/10(6) cells at predose 6-8 weeks versus 12.29 +/- 2.13 ng/10(6) cells at predose 1; P = 0.03). Reductions were also observed after the first dose (27%; P = 0.07) and after the 6-8-week dose (43%; P = 0.05) compared with the respective predose levels. MTX treatment produced significant reductions in the total generation of 5-LO pathway products (5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid + 6-trans-LTB4 + LTB4 + omega-oxidation products of LTB4) by calcium ionophore-activated neutrophils, as quantitated by integrated optical density after resolution on reverse-phase high-performance liquid chromatography. Decreases were observed after the first dose (26%; P = 0.025), immediately before the 6-8-week dose (23%; P = 0.05), and after the 6-8-week dose (47%; P = 0.0033) compared with levels before the first dose, and after the 6-8-week dose compared with the level before it (32%; P = 0.04). The generation of LTB4 by calcium ionophore-activated monocytes was not significantly affected by MTX therapy.

Conclusion: The significant decreases in the formation of omega-oxidation products of LTB4 and in the total generation of neutrophil 5-LO pathway products in the absence of a significant change in the release of 3H-arachidonic acid or the generation of platelet-activating factor suggest that the activity of the 5-LO enzyme in neutrophils is inhibited. We conclude that weekly oral MTX therapy in patients with active RA inhibits neutrophil 5-LO pathway product generation in a pattern consistent with inhibition of the activity of the 5-LO enzyme; an effect is observed after the first dose. The inhibition of 5-LO is cell-selective and cumulative, with a superimposed incremental inhibition observed after the weekly MTX dose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Leukotriene B4 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Leukotriene B4 / biosynthesis
  • Methotrexate / blood
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Leukotriene B4
  • Arachidonate 5-Lipoxygenase
  • Methotrexate