The folic acid antagonist methotrexate is a cornerstone treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Its use is limited chiefly by gastrointestinal toxicity, which is among the main reasons for methotrexate discontinuation. Here, we report the case of a 40-year-old man on chronic methotrexate therapy in whom life-threatening apoptotic enteropathy with watery diarrhea and hypovolemic shock developed after he was switched from the oral to the intramuscular route, with no change in dosage. Colonic biopsies suggested drug-induced colitis, showing a nonspecific, mildly inflammatory infiltrate of lymphocytes and plasma cells, dilated damaged crypts, and a marked increase in basal crypt apoptosis (>20 apoptotic bodies/100 crypts). Clinicians should be aware that methotrexate can cause life-threatening apoptotic enteropathy. Increased basal crypt apoptosis in colonic biopsies with more than 5 apoptotic bodies/100 crypts should routinely suggest drug-induced enteropathy.
Keywords: Apoptotic enteropathy; Chronic diarrhea; Drug-induced colitis; Methotrexate.
Copyright © 2015 Société française de rhumatologie. Published by Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.