, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 699–708 | Cite as

Predicting methotrexate resistance in rheumatoid arthritis patients

  • Mary Beth Yu
  • Anthony Firek
  • William H. R. Langridge


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an incurable, systemic autoimmune disease that decreases quality of life and can lead to severe disability. While there are many medications available to treat RA, the first-line of therapy is low-dose methotrexate (MTX), a small molecule disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD). MTX is the recommended therapy due to its affordability and efficacy in reducing symptoms in most RA patients. Unfortunately, there is great person-to-person variability in the physiological response to MTX, with up to 50% of patients showing little response to the medication. Thus, many RA patients initially placed on MTX do not experience an adequate reduction of symptoms, and could have benefited more in both the short and long terms if initially prescribed a different drug that was more effective for them. To combat this problem and better guide treatment decisions, many research groups have attempted to develop predictive tools for MTX response. Currently, there is no reliable, clinical-grade method to predict an individual’s response to MTX treatment. In this review, we describe progress made in the area of MTX non-response/resistance in RA patients. We specifically focus on application of the following elements as predictive markers: proteins related to MTX transport and function, intracellular MTX concentration, immune cell frequencies, cytokines, and clinical factors.


Rheumatoid arthritis Methotrexate Response Resistance Predict 



ATP binding cassette


Anti-citrullinated protein antibody


American College of Rheumatology


Adenosine deaminase


Aminoimidazole carboxamide ribonucleotide


AMP deaminase


Aminoimidazole carboxamide ribonucleotide transformylase


Breast cancer resistance protein


Dendritic cell




Dihydrofolate reductase


Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug


European League Against Rheumatism


Half maximal inhibitory concentration


Michaelis constant


Multidrug Resistance Protein


Multidrug resistance-associated protein




Polyglutamated methotrexate


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells


Proton-coupled folate transporter


Protein kinase A


Polymorphonuclear leukocytes


Rheumatoid arthritis


Rheumatoid factor


Reduced folate carrier


Shared epitope


Solute carrier




TNF receptor


Thymidylate synthetase


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Basic Sciences, Center for Health Disparities and Molecular MedicineLoma Linda University School of MedicineLoma LindaUSA
  2. 2.Section of EndocrinologyRiverside University Health System Medical CenterMoreno ValleyUSA

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