Safety and efficacy of methotrexate in psoriasis: a meta-analysis of published trials

Jonathan West, Simon Ogston, John Foerster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Methotrexate (MTX) has been used to treat psoriasis for over half a century. Even so, clinical data characterising its efficacy and safety are sparse.

OBJECTIVE: In order to enhance the available evidence, we conducted two meta-analyses, one for efficacy and one for safety outcomes, respectively, according to PRISMA checklist. (Data sources, study criteria, and study synthesis methods are detailed in Methods).

RESULTS: In terms of efficacy, only eleven studies met criteria for study design and passed a Cochrane risk of bias analysis. Based on this limited dataset, 45.2% [95% confidence interval 34.1-60.0] of patients achieve PASI75 at primary endpoint (12 or 16 weeks, respectively, n = 705 patients across all studies), compared to a calculated PASI75 of 4.4 [3.5-5.6] for placebo, yielding a relative risk of 10.2 [95% C.I. 7.1-14.7]. For safety outcomes, we extended the meta-analysis to include studies employing the same dose range of MTX for other chronic inflammatory conditions, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, in order not to maximise capture of relevant safety data. Based on 2763 patient safety years, adverse events (AEs) were found treatment limiting in 6.9 ± 1.4% (mean ± s.e.) of patients treated for six months, with an adverse effect profile largely in line with that encountered in clinical practice. Finally, in order to facilitate prospective clinical audit and to help generate long-term treatment outcomes under real world conditions, we also developed an easy to use documentation form to be completed by patients without requirement for additional staff time.

LIMITATIONS: Meta-analyses for efficacy and safety, respectively, employed non-identical selection criteria.

CONCLUSIONS: These meta-analyses summarise currently available evidence on MTX in psoriasis and should be of use to gauge whether local results broadly fall within outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0153740
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2016


  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid/drug therapy
  • Dermatologic Agents/administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents/administration & dosage
  • Methotrexate/administration & dosage
  • Nausea/chemically induced


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