The role of oral methotrexate as a steroid sparing agent in refractory eosinophilic asthma.
Bilocca D., Hargadon B., Pavord ID., Green RH., Brightling CE., Bradding P., Wardlaw AJ., Martin N., Murphy AC., Siddiqui S.
The use of oral methotrexate for refractory eosinophilic asthma in a tertiary asthma referral centre, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester, was evaluated between January 2006 and December 2014. The patients ( n = 61) were carefully phenotyped at baseline with markers of airway inflammation. In addition, a structured oral methotrexate proforma was utilized to evaluate response to therapy and adverse events. Oral steroid withdrawal was attempted 3 months after commencing treatment. Several outcomes were evaluated at 12 months, including both efficacy and adverse effects; 15% ( n = 9/61) responded by achieving a decrease in daily oral corticosteroid dose (mean 8.43 (±8.76) mg), although we were unable to identify factors that predicted a treatment response. There were no other significant changes in any other clinical outcome measures. There was a high rate of adverse events (19/61 (31%)), primarily gastrointestinal/hepatitis. Our findings support the use of biological agents in preference to using oral methotrexate as a steroid sparing agent at the first instance. In the event of failure of these agents, oral methotrexate remains a therapeutic option, which can be considered in highly specialist severe asthma centres.