Academic Article


  • Suppression of rheumatoid factor (RF) production in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has been variably attributed to the use of remittive agents per se or to clinical improvement associated with their use. There have been conflicting reports with regard to the influence of methotrexate (MTX) on serum RF levels in RA. We determined IgM‐RF and IgA‐RF levels in paired serum samples (obtained at study entry and completion) from RA patients enrolled in multicenter trials with the Cooperative Systematic Studies of Rheumatic Diseases program. After exclusion of the 14 IgM‐RF‐negative sera, there were samples from 30 MTX‐treated patients and 52 placebo‐treated patients. Changes in IgM‐RF and IgA‐RF levels were weakly associated with each other. Significant decreases in IgM‐RF levels were observed in the MTX‐treated patients, but not in the placebo group. These changes were most significant in the MTX‐treated patients who improved clinically. There were significant decreases in IgA‐RF levels at study completion among MTX‐treated patients who had improved clinically and those who had not improved clinically, but not in the placebo group. The contributions of clinical improvement and MTX treatment to changes in serum IgM‐RF and IgA‐RF levels were examined using a logistic regression model. Changes in IgM‐RF were strongly related to MTX treatment and, to a lesser extent, to clinical improvement; changes in IgA‐RF were related only to MTX treatment. These results indicate that MTX treatment per se decreases both IgM‐RF and IgA‐RF levels, whereas clinical improvement correlates with decreased IgM‐RF levels only. The data are consistent with the view that MTX exerts a direct effect on RF production, which may reflect an important therapeutic action of this agent. Copyright © 1990 American College of Rheumatology
  • Volume

  • 33