Methotrexate Therapy May Prevent the Onset of Uveitis in Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate whether early treatment with methotrexate (MTX) prevents the onset of uveitis in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Study design

The clinical charts of all consecutive patients seen between January 2002 and February 2011 who had a disease duration <1 year at first visit and had received a stable management for at least 2 years with or without MTX were reviewed. Patients who were given systemic medications other than MTX (except nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) were excluded. Patients with systemic arthritis, rheumatoid factor-positive arthritis, or enthesitis-related arthritis were also excluded. In each patient, the 2-year follow-up period after first visit was examined to establish whether uveitis had occurred.

Results

A total of 254 patients with a median disease duration of 0.3 year were included. Eighty-six patients (33.9%) were treated with MTX, whereas 168 patients (66.1%) did not receive MTX. During the 2-year follow-up, 211 patients (83.1%) did not develop uveitis, whereas 43 patients (16.9%) had uveitis a median of 1.0 year after the first visit. The frequency of uveitis was lower in MTX-treated than in MTX-untreated patients (10.5% vs 20.2%, respectively, P = .049). Survival analysis confirmed that patients treated with MTX had a lower probability of developing uveitis.

Conclusion

Early MTX therapy may prevent the onset of uveitis in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Because our study may be affected by confounding by indication, the potential of MTX to reduce the incidence of ocular disease should be investigated in a randomized controlled trial.

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