Methotrexate in ocular manifestations of Behcet’s disease: a longitudinal study up to 15 years

Abstract: Ocular manifestations of Behcet’s disease (BD) need aggressive treatment to prevent severe loss of vision or blindness. Cytotoxic drugs are the main therapeutic agents and the first line treatment. Methotrexate is the least toxic, used mainly for posterior uveitis. We present here the outcome of eye lesions with methotrexate and prednisolone, in a longitudinal study of up to 15 years, on 682 patients (5447 eye-years of follow-up). Patients and methods: Methotrexate was started at 7.5–15 mg/week. Prednisolone was added at 0.5 mg/kg/ daily, then adjusted as needed. Inclusion criteria: (i) fulfilling the International Criteria for Behcet’s Disease; and (ii) having active posterior uveitis (PU). Visual acuity (VA) was calculated on a scale of 10. Activity indexes were calculated for PU and retinal vasculitis (RV) for each eye. Total Inflammatory Activity Index (TIAI) demonstrating the inflammatory index of both eyes of the patient, and Total Adjusted Disease Activity Index (TADAI) showing both TIAI + VA were also calculated. Results: Overall results: the mean VA improvement was 0.4 (P < 001), PU 1.2 (P < 0.001) and RV 0.6 (P < 0.001). VA improved in 46.5%, PU in 75.4%, and RV in 53.7% of eyes. TIAI improved in 74% of patients and TADAI in 69.4%. VA was aggravated in 37.2%, PU in 11.1%, and RV in 30.3% of eyes. TIAI was aggravated in 17.4% and TADAI in 21.6% of the patients. The remaining kept their baseline values. Conclusion: All parameters improved, PU better than RV. Improvement of VA was the least, mainly due to secondary cataracts. Key words: Behcet’s disease, cytotoxic therapy, methotrexate, ocular manifestations, steroid therapy.