A long-term follow-up study of methotrexate in juvenile localized scleroderma (morphea)

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012 Dec;67(6):1151-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2012.03.036. Epub 2012 May 30.


Background: Recent studies report that methotrexate (MTX) is beneficial in the treatment of juvenile localized scleroderma (JLS) but little is known about its long-term effectiveness.

Objective: We assessed the therapeutic role of MTX in children with JLS who were followed up for a prolonged period.

Methods: A cohort of patients with JLS, previously enrolled in a double-blind, randomized controlled trial and treated with oral MTX (15 mg/m(2)/wk) and prednisone (1 mg/kg/d, maximum 50 mg) for the first 3 months, were prospectively followed up. Lesions were evaluated clinically, with infrared thermography, and by a computerized skin score. Response to treatment was defined as: (1) no new lesions; (2) skin score rate less than 1; and (3) decrease in lesion temperature by at least 10% compared with baseline. Clinical remission (CR) on medication was defined when response was maintained, on treatment, for at least 6 months, and complete CR when response was maintained, without treatment, for at least 6 months.

Results: Of 65 patients treated with MTX, 48 (73.8%) were responders, 10 (15.4%) relapsed by 24 months since MTX start, and 7 (10.8%) were lost to follow-up. Among the responders, 35 (72.9%) maintained CR for a mean of 25 months and 13 (27.1%) were in CR on medication. Adverse effects seen in 28 patients (48.3%) were generally mild and never required treatment discontinuation.

Limitations: The use of objective measures not widely available, such as infrared thermography and computerized skin score, makes it difficult to compare data from previous studies.

Conclusions: Long-term MTX therapy is beneficial and well tolerated for JLS.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Scleroderma, Localized / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Methotrexate