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Evaluation of Simvastatin as a Disease-Modifying Treatment for Patients With Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Camille CarrollORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.Importance: Current treatments manage symptoms of Parkinson disease (PD), but no known treatment slows disease progression. Preclinical and epidemiological studies support the potential use of statins as disease-modifying therapy. Objective: To determine whether simvastatin has potential as a disease-modifying treatment for patients with moderate PD. Design, Setting, and Participants: This randomized clinical trial, a double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled futility trial, was conducted between March 2016 and May 2020 within 23 National Health Service Trusts in England. Participants aged 40 to 90 years with a diagnosis of idiopathic PD, with a modified Hoehn and Yahr stage of 3.0 or less while taking medication, and taking dopaminergic medication with wearing-off phenomenon were included. Data were analyzed from May 2020 to September 2020, with additional analysis in February 2021. Interventions: Participants were allocated 1:1 to simvastatin or matched placebo via a computer-generated random sequence, stratified by site and Hoehn and Yahr stage. In the simvastatin arm, participants entered a 1-month phase of simvastatin, 40 mg daily, followed by 23 months of simvastatin, 80 mg daily, before a 2-month washout period. Main Outcomes and Measures: The prespecified primary outcome was 24-month change in Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS) part III score measured while not taking medication (high scores indicate worse outcome). The primary futility analysis included participants who commenced the 80-mg phase and had valid primary outcome data. The safety analysis included all participants who commenced trial treatment and is reported by dose at time of event. Results: Of 332 patients assessed for eligibility, 32 declined and 65 were ineligible. Of 235 recruited participants, 97 (41%) were female, 233 (99%) were White, and the mean (SD) age was 65.4 (9.4) years. A total of 216 patients progressed to the 80-mg dose. Primary outcome analysis (n = 178) indicated the simvastatin group had an additional deterioration in MDS-UPDRS III score while not taking medication at 24 months compared with the placebo group (1.52 points; 2-sided 80% CI, -0.77 to 3.80; 1-sided futility test P =.006). A total of 37 serious adverse events (AEs), including 3 deaths, and 171 AEs were reported for participants receiving 0-mg simvastatin; 37 serious AEs and 150 AEs were reported for participants taking 40 mg or 80 mg of simvastatin. Four participants withdrew from the trial because of an AE. Conclusions and Relevance: In this randomized clinical trial, simvastatin was futile as a disease-modifying therapy in patients with PD of moderate severity, providing no evidence to support proceeding to a phase 3 trial. Trial Registration: ISRCTN Identifier: 16108482.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stevens KN, Creanor S, Jeffery A, Whone A, Zajicek J, Foggo A, Jones B, Chapman R, Cocking L, Wilks J, Webb D, Carroll C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: JAMA Neurology

Year: 2022

Volume: 79

Issue: 12

Pages: 1232-1241

Print publication date: 01/12/2022

Online publication date: 31/10/2022

Acceptance date: 01/08/2022

Date deposited: 31/01/2024

ISSN (print): 2168-6149

ISSN (electronic): 2168-6157

Publisher: American Medical Association


DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2022.3718

PubMed id: 36315128


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Funder referenceFunder name
Cure Parkinson’s Trust
JP Moulton Charitable Foundation