Leriglitazone is a selective peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ agonist that crosses the blood-brain barrier and, in preclinical models, improved mitochondrial function and energy production. The authors assessed effects of leriglitazone in patients with FRDA in a proof-of-concept study. In this double-blind, randomized controlled trial, eligible participants (age 12-60 years) had genetically confirmed FRDA, a Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) total score <25, and a SARA item 1 score of 2-6, inclusive. Key exclusion criteria were age at FRDA onset ≥25 years and history of cardiac dysfunction. Participants were randomly assigned (2:1) to receive a daily, oral, individualized dose of leriglitazone or placebo for 48 weeks. The primary endpoint was the change from baseline to week 48 in spinal cord area (C2-C3) (measured by MRI). Secondary endpoints included the change from baseline to week 48 in iron accumulation in the dentate nucleus (quantitative susceptibility mapping) and total N-acetylaspartate to myo-inositol (tNAA/mIns) ratio. Overall, 39 patients were enrolled (mean age 24 years; 43.6% women; mean time since symptom onset 10.5 years): 26 patients received leriglitazone (20 completed) and 13 received placebo (12 completed). There was no difference between groups in spinal cord area from baseline to week 48 (least-squares [LS] mean change [standard error (SE)]: leriglitazone, -0.39 [0.55] mm2; placebo, 0.08 [0.72] mm2; p = 0.61). Iron accumulation in the dentate nucleus was greater with placebo (LS mean change [SE]: leriglitazone, 0.10 [1.33] ppb; placebo, 4.86 [1.84] ppb; p = 0.05), and a numerical difference was seen in tNAA/mIns ratio (LS mean change [SE]: leriglitazone, 0.03 [0.02]; placebo, -0.02 [0.03]; p = 0.25). The most frequent adverse event was peripheral edema (leriglitazone 73.1%, placebo 0%). The primary endpoint of change in spinal cord area was not met. Secondary endpoints provide evidence supporting proof of concept for leriglitazone mode of action and, with acceptable safety data, support larger studies in patients with FRDA.

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