Safety, tolerability, and cerebrospinal fluid penetration of ursodeoxycholic acid in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Gareth J. Parry, Cecilia M P Rodrigues, Marcia M. Aranha, Sarah J. Hilbert, Cynthia Davey, Praful Kelkar, Walter C. Low, Clifford J. Steer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Objective: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive degenerative disease, which typically leads to death in 3 to 5 years. Neuronal cell death offers a potential target for therapeutic intervention. Ursodeoxycholic acid is a cytoprotective, endogenous bile acid that has been shown to be neuroprotective in experimental Huntington and Alzheimer diseases, retinal degeneration, and ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. The objective of this research was to study the safety and the tolerability of ursodeoxycholic acid in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and document effective and dose-dependent cerebrospinal fluid penetration. Methods: Eighteen patients were randomly assigned to receive ursodeoxycholic acid at doses of 15, 30, and 50 mg/kg of body weight per day. Serum and cerebrospinal fluid were obtained for analysis after 4 weeks of treatment. Treatment-emergent clinical and laboratory events were monitored weekly. Results: Our data indicated that ursodeoxycholic acid is well tolerated by all subjects at all doses. We also showed that ursodeoxycholic acid is well absorbed after oral administration and crosses the blood-brain barrier in a dose-dependent manner. Conclusions: These results show excellent safety and tolerability of ursodeoxycholic acid. The drug penetrates the cerebrospinal fluid in a dose-dependent manner. A large, placebo-controlled clinical trial is needed to assess the efficacy of ursodeoxycholic acid in treating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-21
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Neuropharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid


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