Methotrexate pulse therapy in the treatment of recurrent acute heart rejection.

Academic Article


  • Despite cytolytic induction therapy and triple-drug immunosuppression, acute allograft rejection continues to cause important morbidity and occasional death after heart transplantation. Between November 1, 1988, and May 1, 1990, 24 patients received methotrexate pulse therapy for recurrent or persistent acute rejection despite methylprednisolone, OKT3, or antithymocyte globulin therapy. Methotrexate was administered as a daily oral dose of 2.5 to 15 mg on 1 day/week over 3 weeks (longer in 15 patients because of either severe leukopenia with temporary interruption of therapy or recurrent rejection during methotrexate therapy) with reduction or discontinuation of azathioprine. Rejection incidence was reduced from 1.1 episodes/patient month before methotrexate therapy to 0.2 episodes/patient month after completion of therapy (p = 0.0001). Two patients died within 3 months after treatment, one of cytomegalovirus pneumonia and one of lymphoma. Mean white blood count (WBC) fell from 6900 per ml before methotrexate therapy to 3700 during the first month of methotrexate therapy (p = 0.0005). The lowest WBC typically occurred about 3 weeks after starting methotrexate therapy, and a transient WBC of less than 1000/ml developed in seven patients. By multivariable analysis, the WBC 1 month after starting methotrexate therapy was significantly related to greater bone marrow suppression (lower WBC), immediately before methotrexate therapy, greater overall immunosuppression (more rejection episodes) during the 3 months before methotrexate therapy, and a higher total dose of methotrexate. The following conclusions can be drawn: (1) Methotrexate is a useful adjunct in the treatment of recurrent or persistent rejection.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
  • Published In


  • Acute Disease, Drug Administration Schedule, Female, Graft Rejection, Heart Transplantation, Humans, Immunosuppression, Immunosuppressive Agents, Leukocyte Count, Leukopenia, Male, Methotrexate, Middle Aged, Multivariate Analysis, Recurrence, Time Factors
  • Pubmed Id

  • 6435058
  • Author List

  • Bourge RC; Kirklin JK; White-Williams C; Naftel DC; George JF; Morrow R; Tarkka M; Welborn JM
  • Start Page

  • 1116
  • End Page

  • 1124
  • Volume

  • 11
  • Issue

  • 6