Purpose: To study the value of methotrexate (MTX) and the requirement for additional anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of severe chronic iridocyclitis associated with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
Methods: Institutional study of 35 consecutive patients with JIA started on MTX as the single systemic immunosuppressive drug for the treatment of associated iridocyclitis. The clinical epidemiologic data, course of visual acuity (VA), development of complications, and the need for additional anti-inflammatory drugs were analyzed.
Results: Mean follow-up with MTX treatment was 27.6 months. Uveitic complications were present in 31 patients before MTX treatment. With MTX, quiescence of uveitis was obtained with (n=21) or without (n=4) additional topical steroids. Additional systemic immunosuppressive drugs were required in another 7 patients: cyclosporine A (n=4), azathioprine (n=1), infliximab (n=1), or etanercept (n=1). Three patients had active uveitis at the end of the follow-up period. During MTX therapy, uveitis first developed in the unaffected fellow eyes in 2 patients, and secondary glaucoma or ocular hypertension occurred in 7 patients. The VA deteriorated in 6, improved in 13, and was stable in the remaining eyes.
Conclusions: The data suggest that MTX is very effective in controlling inflammation of uveitis in patients with JIA. However, additional topical steroids or systemic immunosuppressive drugs are often required.