Methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis. A five-year prospective multicenter study

Arthritis Rheum. 1994 Oct;37(10):1492-8. doi: 10.1002/art.1780371013.


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of oral methotrexate (MTX) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in a long-term prospective trial.

Methods: One hundred twenty-three patients with RA who completed a 9-month multicenter randomized trial comparing MTX and auranofin enrolled in this 5-year prospective study of MTX.

Results: Significant (P = 0.0001) improvement compared with baseline was noted in all clinical disease variables, functional status, and the Westergren erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). "Marked improvement" occurred in 87 (71%) and 85 (69%) of the patients, respectively, in the joint pain/tenderness index and the joint swelling index at the last evaluable visit. Forty-four patients (36%) withdrew during the study. Eight (7%) withdrew due to lack of efficacy, and 8 (7%) due to adverse experiences, including 1 patient with cirrhosis. At 5 years, 64% of patients were still taking MTX and completed the study.

Conclusion: This large prospective study of long-term MTX treatment demonstrates sustained clinical response and improvement in the Westergren ESR and functional assessment scores, with an acceptable toxicity profile.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Prednisone
  • Methotrexate