Homocysteine levels in patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with low-dose methotrexate

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1991 Nov;50(5 Pt 1):547-56. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1991.180.


Plasma homocysteine levels were determined in patients who participated in a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of folate supplementation (1 mg/day) during methotrexate therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Plasma and red blood cell folate levels before methotrexate therapy were significantly negatively correlated with homocysteine levels. Homocysteine levels were not significantly correlated with the initial C1 index (an assay that measures the folate status of blood mononuclear cells) or the C1 index during methotrexate therapy. There was no significant difference in homocysteine levels between pretreatment and levels drawn at 3 or 6 months. Initial homocysteine levels were predictive of toxicities, such as gastrointestinal intolerance and elevations of liver enzymes in the placebo group. There was no significant correlation between occurrence of toxicity and initial homocysteine levels in the folic acid-supplemented group. Homocysteine levels were not predictive of the efficacy of methotrexate therapy. We conclude that plasma homocysteine levels are correlated with plasma and red blood cell folate levels before methotrexate therapy but is not correlated with folate status in blood mononuclear cells.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Cysteine / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Folic Acid / blood
  • Folic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Homocysteine / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*


  • Homocysteine
  • Folic Acid
  • Cysteine
  • Methotrexate