Effects of lipoic acid on walking performance, gait, and balance in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis

Bryan D. Loy, Brett Fling, Fay B. Horak, Dennis N. Bourdette, Rebecca I. Spain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Gait and balance impairment is common in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS). Lipoic acid (LA), an over-the-counter antioxidant, is effective in MS animal models and may improve walking speed, but effects on mobility are unreported. Objective: Examine the effects of 1200 mg daily oral dose of LA versus placebo (PLA) on gait and balance in a 2-year, randomized, double-blind pilot study. Methods: 134 participants were screened for eligibility before assignment to LA (n = 28) or PLA (n = 26). Included here were, 21 participants with SPMS who took LA (N = 11) or PLA (N = 10) capsules for 2 years (enrolled May 2, 2011 – August 14, 2015) and completed all tasks without the use of an assistive device. Participants completed the Timed Up and Go (TUG) and quiet standing tasks every 6 months while wearing inertial sensors (APDM Opals) to quantify mobility. Results: LA had a medium effect on time to complete TUG at 2 years (g = 0.51; 95% CI = -0.35, 1.38). In a subset of 18 participants with less disability (EDSS < 6, no use of ambulatory device), turning time was significantly shorter with LA (p = 0.048, Δ= 0.48 s). No differences in balance metrics were found between groups. Conclusions: LA had an effect on walking performance in people with SPMS, particularly in those with lower baseline disability. Trial Registration: Lipoic Acid for Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01188811?term=spain+lipoic+acid&rank=1 NCT0118881.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-174
Number of pages6
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Antioxidant
  • Inertial sensors
  • Posture
  • Rehabilitation
  • Sway
  • Timed up and go

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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