To evaluate the efficacy and safety of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) with oral solubilized formula in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients, patients with probable or definite ALS were randomized to receive oral solubilized UDCA (3.5 g/140 mL/day) or placebo for 3 months after a run-in period of 1 month and switched to receive the other treatment for 3 months after a wash-out period of 1 month. The primary outcome was the rate of progression, assessed by the Appel ALS rating scale (AALSRS), and the secondary outcomes were the revised ALS functional rating scale (ALSFRS-R) and forced vital capacity (FVC). Fifty-three patients completed either the first or second period of study with only 16 of 63 enrolled patients given both treatments sequentially. The slope of AALSRS was 1.17 points/month lower while the patients were treated with UDCA than with placebo (95% CI for difference 0.08-2.26, P = 0.037), whereas the slopes of ALSFRS-R and FVC did not show significant differences between treatments. Gastrointestinal adverse events were more common with UDCA (P < 0.05). Oral solubilized UDCA seems to be tolerable in ALS patients, but we could not make firm conclusion regarding its efficacy, particularly due to the high attrition rate in this cross-over trial.
Keywords: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis; Cross-Over Trial; Ursodeoxycholic Acid.