Background: Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic immune mediated disease and the progressive phase appears to have significant neurodegenerative mechanisms. The classification of the course of progressive MS (PMS) has been re-organized into categories of active vs. not active inflammatory disease and the presence vs. absence of gradual disease progression. Clinical trial experience to date in PMS with anti-inflammatory medications has shown limited effect. Andrographolide is a new class of anti-inflammatory agent, that has been proposed as a potential drug for autoimmune disorders, including MS. In the present trial, we perform an exploratory pilot study on the efficacy and safety of andrographolide (AP) compared to placebo in not active PMS.
Methods: A pilot clinical trial using 140 mg oral AP or placebo twice daily for 24 months in patients with not active primary or secondary progressive MS was conducted. The primary efficacy endpoint was the mean percentage brain volume change (mPBVC). Secondary efficacy endpoints included 3-month confirmed disability progression (3-CDP) and mean EDSS change.
Results: Forty-four patients were randomized: 23 were assigned to the AP group, and 21 were assigned to the placebo group. The median baseline EDSS of both groups was 6.0. Annualized mPBVC was - 0.679% for the AP group and - 1.069% for the placebo group (mean difference: -0.39; 95% CI [- 0.836-0.055], p = 0.08, relative reduction: 36.5%). In the AP group, 30% had 3-CDP compared to 41% in the placebo group (HR: 0.596; 95% CI [0.200-1.777], p = 0.06). The mean EDSS change was - 0.025 in the AP group and + 0.352 in the placebo group (mean difference: 0.63, p = 0.042). Adverse events related to AP were mild rash and dysgeusia.
Conclusions: AP was well tolerated and showed a potential effect in reducing brain atrophy and disability progression, that need to be further evaluated in a larger clinical trial.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02273635 retrospectively registered on October 24th, 2014.
Keywords: Andrographolide; Brain atrophy; Disability progression; Multiple sclerosis; Progressive multiple sclerosis.