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Gastroenterology. 1999 Aug;117(2):395-9.

Methotrexate improves biochemical tests in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis who respond incompletely to ursodiol.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease of presumed autoimmune etiology. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), methotrexate, and colchicine each have shown promise in its treatment. The value of combining 2 or 3 of these drugs is uncertain. The aim of this study was to determine whether addition of methotrexate to the treatment regimen improves results of liver biochemical tests in patients with antimitochondrial antibody-positive PBC who responded incompletely to treatment with UDCA and colchicine.


Methotrexate was added to the treatment regimen of 10 consecutive patients with antimitochondrial antibody-positive PBC who had an incomplete response to therapy with UDCA alone or in combination with colchicine. The primary end point was biochemical response. Symptoms and histological changes were also recorded.


Addition of methotrexate to the UDCA plus colchicine regimen was associated with a significant reduction in serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) levels beyond those found with UDCA and colchicine alone or in combination. Median ALP concentration was 389 IU (range, 247-1013 IU) at baseline, 300 IU (range, 155-467 IU) after treatment with UDCA plus colchicine, and 120 IU (range, 66-351 IU) after treatment with methotrexate.


Addition of methotrexate to a regimen of UDCA and colchicine may be beneficial for patients with PBC who respond incompletely to treatment with UDCA and colchicine.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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