BACKGROUND: The MARTE study investigated the demographic, clinical, and therapeutic characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients ongoing methotrexate (MTX) treatment for longer than 8 years. METHODS: This cross-sectional, observational study considered 587 RA patients from 67 Rheumatology Units across Italy. Data collected included demographic, clinical, and therapeutic characteristics, focusing on MTX prescription patterns (route of administration, dosing regimens, treatment duration, and discontinuation). RESULTS: As initial therapy, 90.6% of patients received one conventional synthetic Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drug (csDMARD), with treatment started within the first 3 months from diagnosis in half of the patients. MTX was the first csDMARD in 46.2% of patients. The prevalent route of administration at diagnosis was the intramuscular (60.5%), while at study entry (baseline) 57.6% were receiving subcutaneous MTX. Patients who required a higher MTX dose at study entry were those who received a significantly lower starting MTX dose (P<0.001). Significantly higher MTX doses were currently required in men (P<0.001), current smokers (P=0.013), and overweight patients (P=0.028), whereas patients on oral therapy received significantly lower doses of MTX (P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: The MARTE study confirms once again the potential of the proper use of MTX in the treatment of RA. Data from our study suggest that a higher dose of MTX should be used since the first stages in overweight patients, men, and smokers.
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