Methotrexate for Maintaining Remission in Paediatric Crohn’s Patients with Prior Failure or Intolerance to Thiopurines: A Multicenter Cohort Study

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Background and aims:Methotrexate [MTX] is an immunomodulating drug that can be used to maintain remission in patients with Crohn’s disease [CD], but data on efficacy and tolerability in children and teenagers are scarce. We evaluated the long-term efficacy and tolerability of MTX monotherapy after thiopurine therapy in paediatric CD patients.Methods:A multicenter cohort of paediatric MTX users who stopped thiopurines due to ineffectiveness or intolerance between 2002 and 2012 were included and followed for at least 12 months. Relapse-free use was defined as steroid and biologics-free clinical remission after the introduction of MTX, and included intentional discontinuation of successful therapy before the end of the observation period.Results:A total of 113 patients with CD in remission were followed while on MTX monotherapy, of whom 75 [66%] had failed on thiopurines and 38 [34%] had stopped thiopurines due to side effects. Median age at the introduction of MTX was 14 years [range 7 to 17], and 93% used the subcutaneous route. Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that 52% of the study cohort were still in steroid- and biologics-free remission after 12 months of MTX monotherapy, with a difference that did not reach significance between thiopurine-intolerant and thiopurine-failing patients [p = 0.21, log-rank test].Conclusions:The findings of this cohort study suggest that MTX is an effective immunomodulator to maintain remission after stopping thiopurines. MTX maintenance should be considered before stepping up to anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha therapy. MTX is probably somewhat more effective in patients who stopped thiopurines due to side effects than in those who failed on thiopurines.

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