R+ pramipexole as a mitochondrially focused neuroprotectant: initial early phase studies in ALS

Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2008 Feb;9(1):50-8. doi: 10.1080/17482960701791234.


R+ pramipexole (PPX) is a lipophilic cation that concentrates into brain and mitochondria and efficiently scavenges reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS). Under the auspices of a Physician-Sponsor IND, R+PPX was dosed to small numbers of ALS patients for tolerability and safety while efficacy measures were also collected. The purpose of this paper is to describe the outcomes of these initial clinical studies. In a futility design study, 30 patients with early SALS were evaluated monthly for ALSFRS-R scores and FVC measurements for three months during lead-in, followed by open-label dosing at 30 mg/day of R+PPX for the next six months. In the dose escalation study, 10 subjects with early ALS received daily doses of R+PPX from 10 mg t.i.d. to 100 mg t.i.d. over seven weeks. In the open-label extension analysis, subjects from the initial studies were treated with 30 mg/day for at least six months, then switched to 60 mg/day. R+PPX was tolerated well in all studies. In the futility study, slopes of decline in ALSFRS-R scores and neurophysiological index (NI) values yielded non-significant reductions during treatment. In the dose-escalation study, all subjects increased daily R+PPX intake safely to 100 mg t.i.d. Markers of ALS did not change (ALSFRS-R) or improved (FVC). Trough and peak plasma (PPX) increased linearly with dosing, and several subjects achieved plasma (PPX) >1 microM. In the open-label extension protocol, changing from 30 to 60 mg/day caused a non-significant 17% reduction in slope of decline of ALSFRS-R. It was concluded that R+PPX was tolerated well in long-term dosing at 30 and 60 mg/day. Encouraging but non-significant effects of R+PPX on ALS decline were observed. High doses of R+PPX were tolerated well and yielded neuroprotective plasma levels. These findings support longer-term testing of higher R+PPX doses as a potential disease-altering therapy for SALS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Benzothiazoles / metabolism*
  • Benzothiazoles / pharmacology
  • Benzothiazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Free Radical Scavengers / metabolism
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / metabolism*
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Pramipexole
  • Time Factors


  • Benzothiazoles
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Pramipexole