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Toxic cerebellar syndrome due to methotrexate
  1. Olga Kinzel1,
  2. Rajeev K Verma2,
  3. Roland Wiest2,
  4. Heinrich P Mattle1
  1. 1Department of Neurology Inselspital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  2. 2Department of Neuroradiology, Inselspital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Olga Kinzel, Department of Neurology, Inselspital, Bern 3010, Switzerland; olga.kinzel{at}

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Methotrexate is a folate antagonist and one of several first-line disease-modifying drugs for treating rheumatoid arthritis. It can be given orally or parenterally: the bioavailability of oral doses of methotrexate is highly variable, being only two-thirds of that by parenteral use. The most frequent side effects are nausea and vomiting, and the most serious are toxicity of the bone marrow, liver, kidney and mucosa. Being hydrophilic, methotrexate barely penetrates the blood–brain barrier so that central nervous system toxicity is rare. However, this may follow intrathecal or high-dose intravenous administration, as used to treat haematological malignancies. There are a few case reports of leukoencephalopathy after low-dose oral methotrexate, involving the temporal and/or occipital lobes or the cerebellum.1 Subcutaneous administration of methotrexate seems to give a better clinical response and fewer side effects than oral methotrexate.2 Nevertheless, we recently observed a woman …

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  • Contributors OK and HPM evaluated the patient as clinical neurologist, and RV and RW performed the MR studies and contributed as neuroradiologist. OK and HPM wrote the manuscript, and RKV and RW approved it.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed. This paper was reviewed by Ed Fathers, Taunton, UK.

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