The use of methotrexate for treatment of inflammatory bowel disease in clinical practice

Simone Saibeni, Simona Bollani, Alessandra Losco, Andrea Michielan, Raffaello Sostegni, Massimo Devani, Guido Lupinacci, Lorena Pirola, Claudia Cucino, Gianmichele Meucci, Guido Basilisco, Renata D'Incà, Savino Bruno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Methotrexate is considered a treatment for Crohn's disease, whilst few data in ulcerative colitis are available. Aim: To evaluate frequency, indications, efficacy and safety of methotrexate in inflammatory bowel disease patients. Methods: 5420 case histories were reviewed. Results: Methotrexate was prescribed to 112 patients (2.1%; 89 Crohn's disease, 23 ulcerative colitis). It was the first-line immunosuppressive option in 32 (28.6%), it was an alternative drug due to toxicity or failure of thiopurines in 80 (71.4%). Steroid-dependence represented the main indication both when it was used as first (13/32, 40.6%) and second option (41/80, 51.2%). Efficacy was considered optimal in 39/112 (34.8%), partial in 29/112 (25.9%), absent in 22/112 (19.6%), not assessable in 22/112 (19.6%). Side effects happened in 49 out of 112 patients (43.7%) (39 Crohn's disease, 10 ulcerative colitis), leading to drug discontinuation in 38 (33.9%). The occurrence of side effects was approximately fivefold higher in patients who did not receive folic acid (14/19, 73.7%) than in those who did (35/93, 37.6%): odds ratio 4.64, 95% confidence interval 1.54-14.00; p= 0.005. Conclusions: The use of methotrexate appears to be negligible in clinical practice. However, our results suggest that, if appropriately used, methotrexate could be more widely administered to inflammatory bowel disease patients with complicated disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-127
Number of pages5
JournalDigestive and Liver Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Crohn's disease
  • Methotrexate
  • Therapy
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Hepatology


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