The negative efficacy study examining the γ-secretase inhibitor semagacestat in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) included a number of biomarkers of the disease as well as safety outcomes. We analyzed these data to explore relationships between drug exposure and pharmacodynamic effects and to examine the correlations among outcome measures.
The study was a multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of two dose regimens of semagacestat and a placebo administered for 18 months to individuals with mild to moderate AD. Changes in measures of central and peripheral drug activity were compared between the three treatment groups using one-way analysis of variance. The relationship between changes in each of the outcome measures and measures of drug exposure and peripheral pharmacodynamic effect were assessed using Spearman’s correlation coefficient.
Assignment to the active treatment arms was associated with reduction in plasma amyloid-β (Aβ) peptides, increase in ventricular volume, decrease in cerebrospinal fluid phosphorylated tau (p-tau) and several other laboratory measures and adverse event categories. Within the active arms, exposure to drug, as indicated by area under the concentration curve (AUC) of blood concentration, was associated with reduction in plasma Aβ peptides and a subset of laboratory changes and adverse event rates. Ventricular volume increase, right hippocampal volume loss and gastrointestinal symptoms were related to change in plasma Aβ peptide but not AUC, supporting a link to inhibition of γ-secretase cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein. Cognitive decline correlated with ventricular expansion and reduction in p-tau.
These findings may inform future studies of drugs targeting secretases involved in Aβ generation.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00594568. Registered 11 January 2008.
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