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OBJECTIVE: To determine that concomitant use of methotrexate (MTX) is required to achieve adequate suppression of bone destruction in treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-inhibiting biologic therapy. We quantitatively compared the suppressive effects of treatment with a combination of infliximab and MTX and treatment with each of these 2 agents alone on bone destruction in SCID-HuRAg-pit mice. METHODS: Tissue derived from human RA pannus was implanted with a slice of dentin subcutaneously in the backs of SCID mice (SCID-HuRAg-pit model). Infliximab was administered daily to SCID-HuRAg-pit mice using an osmotic pump for 2 weeks with or without oral administration of MTX. Histological changes in tissue and the pits formed on the dentin slice were examined 8 weeks after transplant. Serum concentrations of TNF-alpha and interleukin 6 (IL-6) were also measured. RESULTS: Treatment with a combination of infliximab and MTX suppressed pit formation significantly, while treatment with neither infliximab alone nor MTX alone had a significant effect on pit formation. Synovial inflammation and serum TNF-alpha and IL-6 levels were suppressed by infliximab with or without MTX. CONCLUSION: This is the first evidence in an animal model of arthritis that concomitant use of MTX is required to achieve adequate suppression of bone destruction when treating RA with a TNF-alpha-inhibiting biologic. Our findings suggest that infliximab suppresses bone destruction through a mechanism of action different from that mediating its antiinflammatory effects in the treatment of RA.