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Liyun Shen, Lei Ye, Wei Zhu, Qin Jiao, Yulin Zhou, Shu Wang, Weiqing Wang, and Guang Ning

Objective

A combination of glucocorticoids with mycophenolate is recommended by current guidelines to boost response to Graves’ orbitopathy (GO) therapy. This study was designed to evaluate the therapeutic effects and safety of methotrexate (MTX) plus reduced (3.0 g) or full-dose (4.5 g) i.v. methylprednisolone (MP) vs full-dose i.v. MP alone.

Design and methods

This was a prospective, randomized, observer-masked, single-center clinical trial conducted in a tertiary clinical center. Ninety-seven patients with active moderate-to-severe GO were screened and 90 patients underwent randomization between April 2018 and Oct 2019. All patients completed 12 weeks of treatment and received clinical assessment. The patients received either MP 4.5 g only, MP 4.5 g plus oral MTX, or MP 3.0 g plus oral MTX. The primary outcome was the CAS response at week 12. Secondary outcomes were adverse events and other individual ophthalmic parameters.

Results

At week 12, 53.3% of MP, 76.7% of reduced MP plus MTX, and 76.7% of MP plus MTX achieved a CAS response, although the difference was not significant (P = 0.1). The overall response rates of the MP group, the reduced MP plus MTX group, and the MP plus MTX group were 43.3%, 53.3%, and 60%, respectively (P = 0.5). Subgroup analysis found that smoking status interacted with marginal significance with treatment effect (P = 0.048). Importantly, adverse event incidence was significantly lower in the reduced MP + MTX group (P = 0.017).

Conclusions

Our study shows that reduced MP plus MTX therapy is effective and safer in treating active and moderate-to-severe GO patients than 4.5 g MP monotherapy.