Brief Report: long-term outcome of a randomized clinical trial comparing methotrexate to cyclophosphamide for remission induction in early systemic antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis

Arthritis Rheum. 2012 Oct;64(10):3472-7. doi: 10.1002/art.34547.


Objective: The NORAM (Nonrenal Wegener's Granulomatosis Treated Alternatively with Methotrexate [MTX]) trial demonstrated that MTX can replace cyclophosphamide (CYC) as remission-inducing treatment for patients with newly diagnosed early systemic antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis. Duration of relapse-free survival was longer among CYC-treated patients than among MTX-treated patients during short-term followup. The aim of the present study was to describe the long-term outcome in patients enrolled in the randomized clinical trial.

Methods: Outcome questionnaires were sent to investigators who had recruited patients for the NORAM trial. Patients treated with MTX for induction of remission (n = 49) were compared to CYC-treated patients (n = 46) with respect to immunosuppressive therapy during followup, relapse-free survival, mortality, and occurrence of other clinical events.

Results: The median duration of followup was 6 years (range 0.1-10.8 years). One patient developed end-stage renal disease, and 11 died. The number of patients affected by serious infection, malignancy, or severe organ failure did not differ between treatment groups, and no difference in survival rate was observed. The duration of corticosteroid therapy was longer in the MTX group during the 18 months of the trial (P = 0.005). During subsequent followup, patients who were in the MTX group in the NORAM trial received corticosteroids, CYC, and other immunosuppressive agents (azathioprine, MTX, and/or mycophenolate mofetil) for longer periods than those who were in the CYC group (P = 0.004, P = 0.037, and P = 0.031, respectively). The cumulative relapse-free survival tended to be lower in the MTX group (P = 0.056).

Conclusion: In the NORAM cohort, no difference in occurrence of major adverse events was observed between treatment groups during long-term followup. However, first-line treatment with MTX was associated with less effective disease control than CYC-based induction therapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Neutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody-Associated Vasculitis / drug therapy*
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Remission Induction / methods*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Methotrexate