Mechanism of action of methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis, and the search for biomarkers
The treatment and outcomes of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have been transformed over the past two decades. Low disease activity and remission are now frequently achieved, and this success is largely the result of the evolution of treatment paradigms and the introduction of new therapeutic agents. Despite the rapid pace of change, the most commonly used drug in RA remains methotrexate, which is considered the anchor drug for this condition. In this Review, we describe the known pharmacokinetic properties and putative mechanisms of action of methotrexate. Consideration of the pharmacodynamic perspective could inform the development of biomarkers of responsiveness to methotrexate, enabling therapy to be targeted to specific groups of patients. Such biomarkers could revolutionize the management of RA.