Prediction of response of methotrexate in patients with rheumatoid arthritis using serum lipidomics

Mateusz Maciejewski, Caroline Sands, Nisha Nair, Stephanie Ling, Suzanne Verstappen, Kimme Hyrich, Anne Barton, Daniel Ziemek, Matthew R Lewis, Darren Plant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Methotrexate (MTX) is a common first-line treatment for new-onset rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, MTX is ineffective for 30-40% of patients and there is no way to know which patients might benefit. Here, we built statistical models based on serum lipid levels measured at two time-points (pre-treatment and following 4 weeks on-drug) to investigate if MTX response (by 6 months) could be predicted. Patients about to commence MTX treatment for the first time were selected from the Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication Study (RAMS). Patients were categorised as good or non-responders following 6 months on-drug using EULAR response criteria. Serum lipids were measured using ultra-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and supervised machine learning methods (including regularized regression, support vector machine and random forest) were used to predict EULAR response. Models including lipid levels were compared to models including clinical covariates alone. The best performing classifier including lipid levels (assessed at 4 weeks) was constructed using regularized regression (ROC AUC 0.61 ± 0.02). However, the clinical covariate based model outperformed the classifier including lipid levels when either pre- or on-treatment time-points were investigated (ROC AUC 0.68 ± 0.02). Pre- or early-treatment serum lipid profiles are unlikely to inform classification of MTX response by 6 months with performance adequate for use in RA clinical management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7266
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date31 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid/blood
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lipidomics
  • Lipids/blood
  • Male
  • Methotrexate/administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies


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