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Methotrexate as a steroid sparing agent for asthma in adults



Methotrexate as a steroid sparing agent for asthma in adults



Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2000(2): Cd000391



Sustained oral corticosteroid use can lead to complications, so there is interest in identifying agents that can reduce oral steroid use in people with asthma. Methotrexate has attracted attention as a possible steroid sparing agent in patients with chronic oral steroid dependent asthma. The objective of this review was to assess the effects of adding methotrexate to oral corticosteroids in adults with stable asthma who are dependent on oral corticosteroids. The Cochrane Airways Group trials register and reference lists of identified articles were searched. Randomised trials of the addition of methotrexate compared with placebo in adult steroid dependent asthmatics. Duration of therapy needed to be at least 12 weeks. Trial quality was assessed and data extraction was carried out by two reviewers independently. Study authors were contacted for missing information. Ten trials involving a total of 185 people were included. Study design and quality, corticosteroid dosages and outcomes varied widely. There was a reduction in oral corticosteroid dose favouring methotrexate in parallel trials (weighted mean difference -4.1 mg per day, 95% confidence interval -6.8 to -1.3) and also in cross-over trials (weighted mean difference -2.9 mg per day, 95% confidence interval -5.9 to -0.2). There was no difference between methotrexate and placebo for forced expiratory volume in one minute (weighted mean difference 0.12 litre, 95% confidence interval -0.21 to 0.45). Hepatotoxicity was a common adverse effect with methotrexate compared to placebo (odds ratio 6.9, 95% confidence interval 3.1 to 15.5). Methotrexate may have a small steroid sparing effect in adults with asthma who are dependent on oral corticosteroids. However, the overall reduction in daily steroid use is probably not large enough to reduce steroid-induced adverse effects. This small potential to reduce the impact of steroid side-effects is probably insufficient to offset the adverse effects of methotrexate.

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Accession: 046676625

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 10796540

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000391


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