investigators reported. The disease course was not significantly different for patients who had a full 80 weeks of levodopa/carbodopa therapy, compared with that seen with those who started treatment after a 40-week delay, according to the investigators.
“These findings imply that levodopa had no disease-modifying effect on Parkinson’s disease over the period of the trial,” wrote investigator, PhD, professor of movement disorders at the University of Amsterdam, and his colleagues in the .
By contrast, results of an earlier randomized, placebo-controlledsuggested that levodopa had disease-modifying effects, though the findings of that study were inconclusive, according to authors of an editorial (see Views on the News).
In the current multicenter trial, known as LEAP (Levodopa in Early Parkinson’s Disease) a total of 445 patients with early Parkinson’s disease were randomized to either 80 weeks of levodopa and carbodopa or to 40 weeks of placebo followed by 40 weeks of levodopa/carbodopa.
Levodopa was dosed at 100 mg three times per day, and carbodopa at 25 mg three times per day, according to the report.
There was no significant difference between the early and delayed treatment groups for primary outcome of the trial, which was change in the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) from baseline to week 80.
The mean change in UPDRS was –1.0 in the group of patients who had the full 80 weeks of levodopa/carbodopa and –2.0 for those who had delayed therapy, for a difference of 1 point (P = .44). Higher scores on the UPDRS signify worse disease.
At week 40, there was a change in UPDRS favoring the early-initiation strategy, which reflected the effects of levodopa on disease symptoms, investigators added.
Nausea was more common in the early-start group during the first 40 weeks of the trial. However, there were no differences between groups in other adverse events of particular interest, including dyskinesias and motor fluctuations related to levodopa, Dr. de Bie and his colleagues reported.
Taken together, these results suggest no beneficial or detrimental disease-modifying effect for an early treatment strategy, although further trials are warranted to evaluate other strategies, such as higher levodopa doses, longer administration, or starting the drug at later stages of disease, they wrote.
Dr. de Bie reported grants from ZonMw, Parkinson Vereniging, and Stichting Parkinsonfonds during the conduct of the study, as well as grants from GE Health and Medtronic outside the submitted work. Study authors provided disclosures related to Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, Michael J. Fox Foundation, UCB, AbbVie, Boston Scientific, Biogen, Merck, and others.
SOURCE: Verschuur CVM et al. .