ATC Code L01BA01, L04AX03, M01CX01
Formula C20H22N8O5
Molar Mass (g·mol−1) 454,44
Physical State solid
Melting Point (°C) 182–189
PKS Value 4.7
CAS Number 59-05-2
PUB Number 126941
Drugbank ID DB00563
Solubility practically insoluble in water, dichloromethane and ethanol (96 %), soluble in mineral acids and alkalis


Methotrexate is a so-called folic acid analogue. Folic acid, also called vitamin B9, is an essential component in cell division. Methotrexate has a strong structural similarity to folic acid and can therefore inhibit enzymes that normally bind folic acid. Methotrexate is used to treat tumors and to combat rheumatoid arthritis. Methotrexate is administered in almost all dosage forms and requires a prescription.



Methotrexate interferes with processes of cell division and inflammation. Due to its structural similarity, methotrexate binds with higher affinity to enzymes for folic acid and blocks them. This inhibits the new synthesis of DNA in the cells and thus cell division. This has a particular effect on tumor cells that are dividing rapidly. Methotrexate is used against rheumatoid arthritis in much lower doses than for tumour treatment. Methotrexate causes ATP to accumulate in the intercellular spaces and suppresses inflammation.


Methotrexate has a bioavailability between 60-90%. The highest plasma concentration is reached after about 2 hours and the average plasma protein binding is about 50%. Methotrexate is metabolized in small amounts in the liver. Over 80% of the dose is excreted unchanged in the urine. The elimination half-life is 5-6 hours at low doses. Higher doses in tumor treatment change this time to approximately 8-15 hours.

Drug Interactions

Probenecid may slow the elimination of methotrexate, rapidly reaching toxic plasma levels. Colestyramine may have the opposite effect, decreasing efficacy. Interactions may also occur with NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).


Side effects

The possible side effects are liver damage, susceptibility to infection, lung disease, gastrointestinal problems, hair loss, sperm and egg formation disorders, kidney damage, and CNS disorders. Side effects are often more severe at higher doses.

Toxicological data

LD50: 135mg/kg (Oral, Rat)

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All information used for the content comes from verified sources (recognised institutions, experts, studies by renowned universities). We attach great importance to the qualification of the authors and the scientific background of the information. Thus, we ensure that our research is based on scientific findings.

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter

Markus Falkenstätter is a writer on pharmaceutical topics in Medikamio's medical editorial team. He is in the last semester of his pharmacy studies at the University of Vienna and loves scientific work in the field of natural sciences.

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Mag. pharm Stefanie Lehenauer

Stefanie Lehenauer has been a freelance writer for Medikamio since 2020 and studied pharmacy at the University of Vienna. She works as a pharmacist in Vienna and her passion is herbal medicines and their effects.

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