Introduction: Methotrexate (MTX) is the first-line disease-modifying drug of choice in controlling active inflammation of the synovium that characterises rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune inflammatory condition. However, many patients do not respond to treatment with MTX or cannot tolerate the medication. Pre-treatment characteristics that predict response to MTX are, therefore, of particular interest and potential clinical utility.
Areas covered: This narrative review seeks to cover various genotypic and phenotypic characteristics that have been investigated as predictors of treatment response to MTX in RA. Ovid Medline searches (1946 to January 2018) were carried out for “methotrexate” and “rheumatoid arthritis”, in combination with relevant terms. All papers identified were English language, with abstracts. Relevant references were also reviewed.
Expert commentary: Despite the introduction of biologic medication and targeted therapies, MTX is likely to remain the mainstay of RA treatment, largely due to its much cheaper cost. Development of a multifactorial predictive algorithm for response to MTX may be of clinical utility, as well as routine MTX drug level testing to improve medication adherence and persistence.