Efficacy of Nilotinib in Patients with Moderately Advanced Parkinson Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Tanya Simuni*, Brian Fiske, Kalpana Merchant, Christopher S. Coffey, Elizabeth Klingner, Chelsea Caspell-Garcia, David Erick Lafontant, Helen Matthews, Richard K. Wyse, Patrik Brundin, David K. Simon, Michael Schwarzschild, David Weiner, Jamie Adams, Charles Venuto, Ted M. Dawson, Liana Baker, Melissa Kostrzebski, Tina Ward, Gary Rafaloff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Importance: There is a critical need for careful and independent validation of reported symptomatic efficacy and dopaminergic biomarker changes induced by nilotinib in Parkinson disease (PD). Objectives: To assess safety and tolerability of nilotinib in participants with moderately advanced PD. Secondary and exploratory objectives were to assess its affect on PD disability, pharmacokinetics, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) penetration, and biomarkers. Design, Setting, and Participants: This was a 6-month, multicenter, randomized parallel-group, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Recruitment was from November 20, 2017, to December 28, 2018, and follow-up ended on September 9, 2019. The study was conducted at 25 US sites. The study approached 173 patients, of whom 48 declined, 125 were screened, and 76 who received a stable regimen of PD medications were enrolled (39% screen failure). Interventions: Participants were randomized 1:1:1 to placebo, 150-mg nilotinib, or 300-mg nilotinib once daily orally for 6 months, followed by 2-month off-drug evaluation. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were safety and tolerability. The tolerability end point was defined as the ability to complete the study while receiving the assigned dose. An active arm was considered tolerable if the percentage of participants meeting the tolerability end point for that group was not significantly lower than the percentage observed in the placebo group. Secondary outcomes included change in PD disability (Movement Disorder Society Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale [MDS-UPDRS], Part II OFF/ON). Exploratory outcomes included serum and CSF pharmacokinetic profile, and CSF dopaminergic biomarkers. Results: At baseline, mean (SD) participants' age was 64.6 (7.5) years, 52 were male (68%), mean (SD) disease duration was 9.9 years (4.7), MDS-UPDRS Part 1-3 OFF score was 66.4 (19.3), ON score was 48.4 (16.2), and Montreal Cognitive Assessment score was 27.1 (2.2). The number of participants who completed the study receiving the assigned dose were 21 (84%), 19 (76%), and 20 (77%) in the placebo, 150-mg, and 300-mg arms, respectively. Both active doses had acceptable safety profile. The most common reasons for drug suspension were asymptomatic, dose-dependent elevations of amylase, and/or lipase. Nilotinib, 150 mg and 300 mg, exhibited worse MDS-UPDRS-3 ON scores compared with placebo, achieving significance for nilotinib, 300 mg, at month 1 (P <.01). There was no difference in the change of MDS-UPDRS-3 OFF from baseline to 6 months between groups (P =.17). Cerebrospinal fluid/serum ratio of nilotinib concentration was 0.2% to 0.3%. There was no evidence of treatment-related alteration of dopamine metabolites in the CSF. Conclusions and Relevance: While we demonstrated acceptable safety and tolerability of nilotinib in our cohort, the low CSF exposure and lack of biomarkers effect combined with the efficacy data trending in the negative direction indicate that nilotinib should not be further tested in PD. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03205488.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-320
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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