Objective: To evaluate the efficacy, safety, and corticosteroid sparing potential of methotrexate (MTX) in patients with pediatric onset systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: The medical records of 11 patients with SLE with onset before age 16 years were reviewed. Details of clinical features, previous therapy, indications for MTX, efficacy, toxicity, and corticosteroid reduction during MTX therapy were recorded.
Results: At the start of MTX treatment, 7 patients had nephritis, 3 malar rash, 3 arthritis, 2 skin vasculitis, and 2 thrombocytopenia. All patients were given MTX (12.5-17.0 mg/m2/week) as the sole drug therapy along with prednisone. Although many patients showed initial improvement and/or were able to reduce the prednisone dose, after 7 to 23 months 8 patients had a flare of SLE requiring increased doses of prednisone, one patient had unchanged SLE activity, and 2 patients were permanently discontinued from MTX because of toxicity. Side effects were observed in 8 (73%) patients, but only 2 (18%) discontinued MTX due to toxicity.
Conclusion: MTX given as the sole drug therapy along with prednisone did not show a major corticosteroid sparing potential in our patients with pediatric onset SLE.