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Azathioprine immunosuppression and disease modification in Parkinson’s disease (AZA-PD): a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled phase II trial protocol

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Cutting, Emma 
Kadyan, Sonakshi 
Bond, Simon 
Chhabra, Anita 


Introduction: The immune system is implicated in the aetiology and progression of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Inflammation and immune activation occur both in the brain and in the periphery, and a proinflammatory cytokine profile is associated with more rapid clinical progression. Furthermore, the risk of developing PD is related to genetic variation in immune-related genes and reduced by the use of immunosuppressant medication. We are therefore conducting a ‘proof of concept’ trial of azathioprine, an immunosuppressant medication, to investigate whether suppressing the peripheral immune system has a disease-modifying effect in PD. Methods and analysis: AZA-PD is a phase II randomised placebo-controlled double-blind trial in early PD. Sixty participants, with clinical markers indicating an elevated risk of disease progression and no inflammatory or immune comorbidity, will be treated (azathioprine:placebo, 1:1) for 12 months, with a further 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome is the change in the Movement Disorder Society-Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale gait/axial score in the OFF state over the 12-month treatment period. Exploratory outcomes include additional measures of motor and cognitive function, non-motor symptoms and quality of life. In addition, peripheral and central immune markers will be investigated through analysis of blood, cerebrospinal fluid and PK-11195 positron emission tomography imaging. Ethics and dissemination: The study was approved by the London-Westminster research ethics committee (reference 19/LO/1705) and has been accepted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for a clinical trials authorisation (reference CTA 12854/0248/001–0001). In addition, approval has been granted from the Administration of Radioactive Substances Advisory Committee. The results of this trial will be disseminated through publication in scientific journals and presentation at national and international conferences, and a lay summary will be available on our website. Trial registration numbers: ISRCTN14616801 and EudraCT- 2018-003089-14.



Neurology, 1506, 1713, Parkinson's disease, therapeutics, immunology

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BMJ Open

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BMJ Publishing Group
Cambridge Centre for Parkinson Plus (RG95450)