Leucine and perindopril to improve physical performance in people over 70 years with sarcopenia: the LACE factorial RCT

Miles Witham, Simon Adamson, Alison Avenell, Margaret Band, Tufail Bashir, Peter Donnan, Jacob George, Adrian Hapca, Cheryl Hume, Paul R. Kemp, Emma McKenzie, Kristina Pilvinyte, Christos Rossios, Karen Smith, Allan Struthers, Deepa Sumukadas

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Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and leucine are promising potential treatments for sarcopenia. Neither has yet been tested in adequately powered randomised trials in patients with sarcopenia.

To determine the efficacy of leucine and perindopril in improving physical function in older people with sarcopenia, to evaluate the effect of leucine and perindopril on muscle mass and to evaluate the predictive biomarkers of sarcopenia.

A placebo-controlled, parallel group, double-blind, randomised 2 × 2 factorial trial.

Primary care and geriatric medicine secondary care departments in 14 UK centres.

Adults aged ≥ 70 years with low muscle strength and mass, without contraindications to angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and without known diagnosis-specific skeletal myopathy.

Eligible participants were randomised 1 : 1 to receive 4 mg of oral perindopril or a matching placebo and, separately, were randomised 1 : 1 to receive 2.5 g of oral leucine powder or a matching placebo powder taken thrice daily with meals. Randomisation was performed using an interactive web-based randomisation system run independently of the research team to preserve allocation concealment.

Main outcome measures:
The primary outcome was the between-group difference in the Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) score over the 12-month follow-up period. Other outcome measures included appendicular muscle mass, EQ-5D (EuroQol-5 Dimensions) quality-of-life score, grip strength, quadriceps strength, 6-minute walk distance, activities of daily living, hip bone mineral density and insulin resistance. All adverse events and falls were recorded. Protein-, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)- and RNA (ribonucleic acid)-based biomarkers were collected at baseline and at 3 and 12 months.

We screened 320 people and randomised 145 participants. Participants had a mean age of 79 (standard deviation 6) years, 78 (54%) were women and the mean SPPB was 7.0 (standard deviation 2.4). The median adherence was lower for perindopril than for placebo (76% vs. 96%; p < 0.001). Perindopril did not improve the primary outcome (adjusted treatment effect –0.1 points, 95% confidence interval –1.2 to 1.0 points). Quality of life was worse in the perindopril group (treatment effect –12 points, 95% confidence interval –21 to –3 points) and more adverse events occurred in the perindopril group (n = 218 vs. n = 165). Falls rates between the groups were similar and other secondary outcomes showed no significant treatment effect. For leucine compared with placebo, median adherence was the same in both groups (76% vs. 76%; p = 0.99). Leucine did not improve the primary outcome (adjusted treatment effect 0.1 point, 95% confidence interval –1.0 to 1.1 points). No significant treatment effect was found for any secondary outcome. There were similar numbers of adverse events and falls in both groups.

The trial did not reach its original recruitment target; this trial alone cannot confidently exclude clinically important effects of either perindopril or leucine.

Future work:
Further exploration of biomarkers predicting response to sarcopenia interventions is warranted.

Neither perindopril nor leucine improved physical performance or muscle mass in this trial; meta-analysis confirmed the lack of efficacy of both treatments in improving physical performance.

Study registration:
This trial is registered as ISRCTN90094835 and EudraCT 2014-003455-61. The systematic review is registered as PROSPERO CRD42014013398.

This project was funded by the Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation (EME) programme, a MRC and National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) partnership. This will be published in full in Efficacy and Mechanism Evaluation; Vol. 9, No. 8. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages108
JournalEfficacy and Mechanism Evaluation
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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