Plasma from rheumatoid patients taking low dose methotrexate enhances platelet aggregation

Document Type



Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Methotrexate (MTX) in low doses is commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). At least 36 deaths have been attributed to bone marrow cytotoxicity associated with low dose MTX. The goal was to determine if plasma from arthritis patients taking low dose MTX induces platelet aggregation in platelet rich plasma from healthy volunteers. Plasma from patients on MTX alone caused a 3-fold increase in aggregation vs plasma from controls (P<0.05). Plasma from patients not taking MTX or taking MTX with diclofenac caused aggregation to a lesser extent. Diclofenac, along with several others NSAIDs and cyclooxygenase inhibitors, depressed aggregation produced by arachidonic acid in platelet rich plasma from healthy volunteers. A precise mechanism for amplification of aggregation by MTX plasma and its relationship to MTX toxicity remains unknown. However, a serum factor may be produced by MTX that modulates the activity of cyclooxygenase, thereby influencing aggregation.


Research Communications in Molecular Pathology and Pharmacology