Suppression of rheumatoid factor production by methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence for differential influences of therapy and clinical status on IgM and IgA rheumatoid factor expression

Arthritis Rheum. 1990 Aug;33(8):1156-61. doi: 10.1002/art.1780330816.


Suppression of rheumatoid factor (RF) production in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been variably attributed to the use of remittive agents per se or to clinical improvement associated with their use. There have been conflicting reports with regard to the influence of methotrexate (MTX) on serum RF levels in RA. We determined IgM-RF and IgA-RF levels in paired serum samples (obtained at study entry and completion) from RA patients enrolled in multicenter trials with the Cooperative Systematic Studies of Rheumatic Diseases program. After exclusion of the 14 IgM-RF-negative sera, there were samples from 30 MTX-treated patients and 52 placebo-treated patients. Changes in IgM-RF and IgA-RF levels were weakly associated with each other. Significant decreases in IgM-RF levels were observed in the MTX-treated patients, but not in the placebo group. These changes were most significant in the MTX-treated patients who improved clinically. There were significant decreases in IgA-RF levels at study completion among MTX-treated patients who had improved clinically and those who had not improved clinically, but not in the placebo group. The contributions of clinical improvement and MTX treatment to changes in serum IgM-RF and IgA-RF levels were examined using a logistic regression model. Changes in IgM-RF were strongly related to MTX treatment and, to a lesser extent, to clinical improvement; changes in IgA-RF were related only to MTX treatment. These results indicate that MTX treatment per se decreases both IgM-RF and IgA-RF levels, whereas clinical improvement correlates with decreased IgM-RF levels only.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / metabolism*
  • Immunoglobulin M / metabolism*
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Rheumatoid Factor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Rheumatoid Factor / biosynthesis
  • Rheumatoid Factor / blood


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Rheumatoid Factor
  • Methotrexate