Effectiveness, side-effects and period of remission after treatment with methotrexate in localized scleroderma and related sclerotic skin diseases: an inception cohort study

Br J Dermatol. 2009 May;160(5):1075-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.09017.x. Epub 2009 Feb 4.


Background: Detailed information is lacking on effectiveness of methotrexate (MTX) in sclerotic skin diseases, side-effects, and duration of remission after discontinuation.

Objectives: To determine effectiveness, side-effects and period of remission gained by use of MTX in sclerotic skin diseases.

Methods: All patients with a sclerotic skin disease who were treated with MTX (group A) or MTX with corticosteroids (CS) (group B) between 1995 and 2007 were evaluated. Detailed information was collected on dosage and duration of MTX treatment, concomitant immunosuppressive medication and CS treatment, effectiveness, side-effects, duration of the remission period, and time until restart.

Results: Fifty-eight patients (A, n = 47; B, n = 11) were evaluated. Clinical assessment revealed that 38 patients (81%) treated with MTX and 11 patients (100%) treated with MTX + CS showed improvement of sclerotic skin. After one treatment course 51% of the patients treated with MTX and 73% treated with MTX + CS reached remission status with a median follow-up time of 55 and 58 months. Patients showing relapse still responded to a second and even to a third course of MTX. Patients who showed a relapse had received a lower cumulative dose, due to a shorter period of treatment with MTX in the first course. Serious side-effects were seen in six patients (10%).

Conclusions: MTX was an effective treatment for various sclerotic skin diseases with a long period of remission and relatively low toxicity. Patients showing relapse still responded to a second and third course of MTX.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / adverse effects
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction
  • Scleroderma, Localized / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • Methotrexate