Pharmacokinetics of low-dose methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis patients

J Pharm Sci. 1989 Feb;78(2):165-71. doi: 10.1002/jps.2600780219.


The pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of low-dose methotrexate (MTX) (10 mg/m2) were evaluated in 41 subjects who had definite or classical rheumatoid arthritis as defined by the American Rheumatism Association criteria. Subjects received 10 mg/m2 (to the nearest 2.5 mg) of MTX in a single oral dose and a single intravenous (iv) dose one week apart. Serum concentrations for this low-dose regimen were monitored using a radiochemical ligand binding assay. The results indicate the MTX is cleared from the plasma at a rate of 84.6 mL/min/m2. The terminal half-life was approximately 6 h. The volumes of distribution at steady state and for the central compartment were 22.2 and 13.5 L/m2, respectively. The mean residence time in the body, in the systemic circulation, and in the periphery were estimated to be 4.7, 3.0, and 1.7 h, respectively, with a peripheral single-pass mean transit time of 6.0 h and an intrinsic mean residence time in the periphery of 7.9 h. The mean absorption time was 1.2 h and the oral bioavailability was 0.70. The ratio of synovial fluid concentration to serum concentration 4 and 24 h after a dose was found to be approximately 1.0, indicating that at least within that time range serum and synovial fluid concentrations are approximately equal. Because of conflicting results and insufficient data from previous high-dose pharmacokinetic studies, it is difficult to say whether or not low-dose MTX pharmacokinetics differs from those of high-dose MTX.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Joints / metabolism
  • Methotrexate / administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate / pharmacokinetics*
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged


  • Methotrexate