Folic acid pathway single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with methotrexate significant adverse events in United States veterans with rheumatoid arthritis

Lisa A. Davis, Brooke Polk, Alyse Mann, Roger K. Wolff, Gail S. Kerr, Andreas M. Reimold, Grant W. Cannon, Ted R. Mikuls, Liron Caplan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Objective: Methotrexate (MTX) is the cornerstone medication in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We examined whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in enzymes of the folic acid pathway (folylpoly-gamma-glutamate synthetase [FPGS], gamma-glutamyl hydrolase [GGH], and methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase [MTHFR]) associate with significant adverse events (SigAE). Methods: Patients (n=319) enrolled in the Veterans Affairs RA (VARA) registry taking MTX were genotyped for HLA-DRB1-SE and the following SNPs: FPGS (rs7033913, rs10760503, rs10106), GGH (12548933, rs7010484, rs4617146, rs719235, rs11988534), MTHFR (rs1801131, rs1801133). AE were abstracted from the medical record using a structured instrument. SigAE were defined as an AE leading to MTX discontinuation. Covariates included: age, gender, race, RA antibody status, tobacco, RA disease duration between diagnosis and MTX course, Charlson-Deyo comorbidity index, glucocorticoids, use of prior RA medications, and mean 4-variable disease activity score. Cox regression was performed to determine factors associated with time-to-SigAE. A p-value ≤0.005 established significance in the final model. Results: The presence of ≥1 copy of the minor allele in MTHFR rs1801131 was associated with an increased hazard ratio (HR) of SigAE (HR 3.05, 95% CI 1.48-6.29, p-value 0.003 and HR 3.88, 95% CI 1.62-9.28, p-value 0.002 for heterozygotes and homozygotes for the minor allele, respectively). An interaction term, between FPGS rs7033913 heterozygotes and GGH rs11988534 homozygotes for the minor allele, had a p-value <0.0001. Conclusion: RA subjects taking MTX may have decreased time-to-SigAE with ≥ 1 copy of the minor allele in MTHFR rs1801131. Further investigation is warranted, as these SNPs may indicate susceptibility to MTX toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-332
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and experimental rheumatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Drug toxicity
  • Methotrexate
  • Polymorphism
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Single nucleotide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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