Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of low oral doses of methotrexate as a steroid-sparing agent in children with sarcoidosis.
Study design: An open-label, noncontrolled trial. Methotrexate was administered orally at a single weekly dose of 10 to 15 mg/m2. Duration of therapy was open ended, but patients received treatment for a minimum of 6 months to be considered as having completed the study.
Results: Seven children with biopsy-proven sarcoidosis completed the study. The mean dose of prednisone was successfully tapered from 49 mg/day (1.3 mg/kg) to 18 mg/day (0.5 mg/kg) after 3 months of methotrexate therapy and to 9.9 (0.2 mg/kg) and 7.3 mg/day (0.1 mg/kg) after 6 months and at the end of the follow-up period, respectively. Other clinical and laboratory parameters improved significantly after methotrexate therapy was started. There was significant clinical improvement, as confirmed by the reduction of the clinical severity score from 8 +/- 1.1 to 0.8 +/- 0.5 point after 3 months of methotrexate therapy, and to 0.7 and 0.5 +/- 0.3 point after 6 months and at the end of the follow-up, respectively. Laboratory measurements revealed marked improvement, as reflected by a significant reduction in the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and an increase of hemoglobin values. The mean serum angiotensin-converting enzyme activity dropped significantly. No adverse side effects were noted with methotrexate therapy.
Conclusion: Our study demonstrated that low-dose oral methotrexate therapy was effective and safe and had steroid-sparing properties in seven children with sarcoidosis.