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The mechanisms of action of MTX (methotrexate) in the treatment of RA (rheumatoid arthritis) and PsA (psoriatic arthritis) is related to its antifolic activity, due to the high affinity for enzymes that require folate cofactors as dihydrofolate reductase and to the anti-inflammatory activity derivated from the inhibition of thymidylate synthetase that leads to the over-production of adenosine. Our patient was a 41-year-old female, affected by PsA in treatment since 2 years with low-dose methylprednisolone and low-dose subcutaneous MTX. The treatment was effective. The patient subacutely developed a severe paraparesis with impossibility of gait or standing without aid and was admitted to a Neurology Department where the cause of the paraparesis was not clear in spite of accurate radiological neurophysiologic and laboratory tests. Therefore, she was admitted in a rehabilitation unit. Paraparesis in PsA patient in treatment with methotrexate. MTX toxicity was hypothesized; therefore the drug was discontinued while i.m. folic acid and cyanocobalamin were administered for 20 days. The diagnosis was clinical, based on neurological examination (paraparesis) and on the chronic use of MTX (hypothesis of toxicity). The patient obtained a complete resolution of paraparesis. Genetic analyses showed associated a compound heterozygosity for the c.1298A>C and c.677C>T variants of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene. Neurological side effects of MTX are uncommon. In literature no previous case of MTX induced paraparesis in patients treated with low-dose MTX for chronic arthritis has been described. The association between the gene polymorphisms of MTHFR (c.1298A>C and c.677C>T) and MTX toxicity in arthritis patients is confirmed. The case also confirms that folates are a precious antidote of MTX toxicity.


Gianantonio Saviola, Lul Abdi-Ali, Silvano Sacco, Laura Comini, Katrin Plewnia, Maja Rossi, Alfredo Orrico. Complete clinical and functional recovery following low-dose methotrexate related paraparesis in a patient with compound c.1298A>C AND c.677C>T MTHFR polymorphism: A case report. Medicine. 2018 Dec;97(49):e13350

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PMID: 30544400

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