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This Antioxidant Could Offer Neuroprotection in MS

June 14, 2016

The oral antioxidant lipoic acid has been proposed as a new therapeutic approach in multiple sclerosis. Studies have also linked this lipoic acid to decreased inflammation and decreased optic nerve and spinal cord atrophy in the mouse model.

A study was conducted by researchers from the VA Portland Healthcare System and Oregon Health and Science University which assessed the effect lipoic acid had on patients with secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis.

54 patients were randomly assigned to receive either lipoic acid or a placebo over a period of two years and 51 patients took at least one dose of the study drug and were included in the analysis. A majority of the treatment group included mostly women (61 percent) with a range of ages from 40 to 69 and a disease duration range of 9 to 51. 14.8 percent of the treatment group had an EDSS (expanded disability status scale) score greater than 6.5.

As determined by percentage of brain volume change on MRI, the primary end point of the study was reduction in the whole brain atrophy. The secondary end points also included brain substructure, spinal cord, retinal and macular atrophies as well as changes in neurologic examination, walking, cognition, fatigue and quality of life.

Due to conditions such as glomerulonephritis, testicular cancer, renal frailer and intolerance of the MRI procedure, a total of 4 subjects withdrew from the study. Other injuries, infections and gastrointestinal disorders were commonly reported.

There was a significant reduction in brain atrophy noted along with a trend toward increased walking speed and a decrease in the number of falls that were being experienced by participants. Larger trials are still needed in order to confirm the results of this analysis, but the investigators do report a neuroprotective effect with lipoic acid as well as an overall safety and tolerability profile.