Use of Tetrabenazine in Huntington Disease Patients on Antidepressants or with Advanced Disease: Results from the TETRA-HD Study

Neurologist, Johns Hopkins University
PLoS Currents 11/2011; 3:RRN1283. DOI: 10.1371/currents.RRN1283
Source: PubMed


The safety and effectiveness of tetrabenazine in different sub-populations of Huntington disease (HD) is not known. In this study, we evaluated the safety of tetrabenazine in individuals on an antidepressant and its effectiveness in advanced HD. Tetrabenazine was not associated with an increased incidence of depressed mood among those taking antidepressants and was effective at reducing chorea in those with advanced HD.

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    ABSTRACT: Although tetrabenazine, a drug that depletes presynaptic dopamine by inhibiting vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2), was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008 for the treatment of chorea associated with Huntington's disease (HD), there is a paucity of data on its long-term efficacy and safety. Approximately 2,000 patients with a variety of hyperkinetic movement disorders had been treated with open-label tetrabenazine at the Movement Disorders Clinic, Baylor College of Medicine, since 1979. Tetrabenazine was usually started at 12.5 mg/day, and the dosage was gradually increased (up to 300 mg/day). Responses were rated by the investigator 1-5, with 1 = marked chorea reduction, excellent improvement in function; 2 = moderate chorea reduction, very good improvement in function; 3 = fair chorea improvement, only mild improvement in function; 4 = poor or no response for chorea and function; and 5 = worsening chorea, some functional deterioration. Efficacy and safety were analyzed retrospectively. By 2004, 98 HD chorea patients had received tetrabenazine for a mean of 3.1 years (range ≤1-11.4 years). Of those with valid ratings, 75% had either marked or very good responses (rating 1 or 2) at their optimal dosages. The most common adverse events occurring in ≥5% of the patients were somnolence (39%), insomnia (33%), depression (31%), accidental injury (26%), and dysphagia (19%). Efficacy and safety were comparable to results for non-HD chorea patients. Tetrabenazine treatment was associated with long-term improvement in chorea. Adverse event rates were comparable to those reported from controlled trials.
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