Corticosteroid sparing effect of low dose methotrexate treatment in adult Still's disease

J Rheumatol. 1999 Feb;26(2):373-8.


Objective: Adult Still's disease (ASD) is a rare chronic polyarthritis, usually treated with corticosteroid therapy. Because some patients become dependent on high dose prednisone or are refractory to that treatment, and because adverse events are frequent with corticosteroid, we evaluated the efficacy of low dose methotrexate (MTX) as a second-line drug.

Methods: We retrospectively studied 26 patients with ASD treated with low dose MTX because their disease was either resistant to or dependent on corticosteroids.

Results: The group included 13 women and 13 men, with a mean age of 32.6 years at onset of ASD. Mean disease duration at the beginning of MTX treatment was 59.9 mo (range 7 to 444). Evaluation took place at the maximum followup, which averaged 48.9 mo (range 8 to 136). The mean dose of MTX was 11.5+/-3.6 mg/week (range 7.5 to 17.5). Twenty-three patients responded to MTX; 18 had complete remission. No difference was seen between patients with or without extraarticular manifestations. Leukocyte and neutrophil counts and erythrocyte sedimentation rate were significantly reduced (p = 0.0001). Daily prednisone intake decreased by 69% (21.5 mg) (p = 0.0001). Eleven patients were able to stop taking corticosteroids. One patient with AA amyloidosis renal failure died of neutropenia: this was the only serious adverse event.

Conclusion: MTX is an effective second-line treatment of ASD that does not respond to prednisone. It allows significant reduction of corticosteroid doses, which is beneficial to these patients, who have frequent and numerous corticosteroid related adverse events.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Male
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Still's Disease, Adult-Onset / drug therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Prednisone
  • Methotrexate