In a prospective open study 44 Israeli patients with rheumatoid arthritis were treated with weekly low dose methotrexate (MTX) for up to 36 months. Nine patients withdrew from the study: six because of side effects and three due to inefficacy. One patient died of septicaemia following septic arthritis. Significant improvement, graded by Ritchie articular index, grip strength, physician's global assessment, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and platelet counts, was noticed in response to treatment. Seronegative patients had a better clinical response. Transient gastrointestinal symptoms were common and correlated with increases of serum aspartate transaminase (AST). HLA-DR1 and DR7 were significantly associated with increased serum AST concentrations.
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