Lipoic acid is an over-the-counter supplement known to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants block the action of “free radicals”, which are by-products of body processes that cause tissue injury in MS. In addition to supplements, lipoic acid can also be found in foods such as spinach, broccoli and potatoes. Lipoic acid has been shown to reduce inflammation and disability in mice that have MS-like disease.
Phase II Trials
In a single-site, phase II, double-blind preliminary clinical trial, researchers randomly assigned 51 individuals with SPMS to receive either 1,200 mg of LA orally or placebo daily for two years. The primary outcome measure was the percentage of brain volume loss as determined by MRI. The team also looked at changes in disability and safety of LA. The results showed that participants who received LA had a 68% decrease in the amount of brain volume loss compared to individuals on placebo. While individuals treated with LA showed slight improvements in the time taken to walk 25 feet compared to the placebo group, this finding was not statistically significant. Furthermore, participants who were given LA had fewer falls than individuals given placebo.
Another phase II multicenter, double-blind clinical trial, supported by the National MS Society and MS Society of Canada, will expand on the preliminary results to confirm the effects of LA compared with placebo. The research team will recruit 100 participants to determine if LA alters mobility, falls, whole brain atrophy, neurological disability, cognition, mood, and quality of life. Furthermore, the trial will monitor the safety, tolerability and adverse events of treatment with LA.
Spain R, et al. Lipoic acid in secondary progressive MS: A randomized controlled pilot trial. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 4(5): e374.