Adherence to low-dose methotrexate in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis using a sensitive methotrexate assay.



Low-dose weekly methotrexate (MTX) is the mainstay of treatment in juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Unfortunately, a substantial part of patients has insufficient efficacy of MTX. A potential cause of this inadequate response is suboptimal drug adherence. The aim of this study was to assess MTX adherence in juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients by quantification of MTX concentrations in plasma. Secondly, the association between MTX concentrations and either self-reported adherence issues, or concomitant use of biologics was examined.


This was a retrospective, observational study using plasma samples from juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients. An ultrasensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method was developed for quantification of MTX and its metabolite 7-hydroxy-MTX in plasma. The determined MTX plasma concentrations in juvenile idiopathic arthritis patients were compared with corresponding adherence limits, categorising them as either adherent or possibly non-adherent to MTX therapy.


Quantification of MTX in plasma is a feasible and objective method to assess adherence in patients using low-dose weekly MTX. In clinical practice, the use of this method could be a helpful tool for physicians to refute or support suspicion of non-adherence to MTX therapy.


Plasma samples of 43 patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis were analysed. Adherence to MTX in this population was 88% shortly after initiation of MTX therapy and decreased to 77% after one year of treatment. Teenagers were more at risk for non-adherence (p = 0.002). We could not find an association between MTX adherence with either self-reported adherence issues, nor with the use of concomitant biological treatment (p = 1.00 and p = 0.27, respectively; Fisher's Exact).

More about this publication

Pediatric rheumatology online journal
  • Volume 22
  • Issue nr. 1
  • Pages 52
  • Publication date 07-05-2024

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