Methotrexate is a disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug that is widely used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Nimesulide is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which is frequently used as adjuvant therapy for symptomatic alleviation of rheumatoid arthritis. In this study, we have evaluated the potential influence of nimesulide on the disease modifying anti-rheumatic properties of methotrexate using the collagen-induced arthritis model. Mice were immunized with collagen type II for the induction of arthritis and treated with methotrexate (2.5mg/kg) twice a week, nimesulide (20mg/kg) every other day or a combination of both drugs. Treatment started one week after the onset of arthritis until day 40. An arthritic index was used to compare the severity of arthritis between different treatments. In addition, articular hyperalgesia, joint stiffness, radiological deterioration and intra-articular leucocytic infiltration were evaluated. Methotrexate alone showed modest but significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, and the effects of nimesulide were comparable. On the other hand, nimesulide significantly improved the disease modifying anti-rheumatic profile of methotrexate in terms of arthritic index and joint mobility. Furthermore, although nimesulide failed to show any radiological evidence of articular protection, it significantly improved methotrexate-induced joint protection as judged by X-ray analysis.
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