for people ages 40-80 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California and other locations
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Carlie TannerNijee Luthra



This study is a Phase 3 multi-site, randomized, evaluator-masked, study of endurance treadmill exercise on changes in the Movement Disorder Society-Unified Parkinson Disease Rating Scale (MDS-UPDRS) Part III score at 12 months among persons with early stage Parkinson disease. 370 participants will be randomly assigned to 2 groups: 1)60-65% HRmax or 2)80-85% HRmax 4 times per week. The primary objective is to test whether the progression of the signs of Parkinson's disease is attenuated at 12 months in among persons who have not initiated medication for Parkinson Disease (PD) when they perform high-intensity endurance treadmill exercise.

Official Title

Study in Parkinson Disease of Exercise Phase 3 Clinical Trial: SPARX3


This study is a Phase 3 multi-site, randomized, evaluator-masked, study of endurance treadmill exercise on changes in the MDS-UPDRS Part III score at 12 months. 370 persons diagnosed with Parkinson's disease who have not yet initiated dopaminergic therapy, age 40-80, will be randomly assigned to 2 groups: 1)60-65% HRmax or 2)80-85% HRmax 4 times per week. Secondary objectives will test hypotheses related to striatal specific binding ratio (SSBR) at 12 months, MDS-UPDRS Part III score, ambulatory mobility (6-minute walk), daily walking activity (steps), cognition, quality of life, cardiorespiratory fitness, blood-derived biomarkers of inflammation and neurotrophic factors at 12 and 18 months. Tertiary objectives will test hypotheses related to 2 characteristics of ambulation at 12 and 18 months. Exploratory objectives will test hypotheses related to the effects of removing the study support that was provided over 18 months on the sustainability and durability of the exercise effects at 24 months. Approximately 29 sites will enroll participants: 27 sites that cover all geographic regions of the USA and 2 sites in Canada. All sites will have a collaboration between movement disorders and exercise specialists.


Parkinson Disease Treadmill walking High Intensity Exercise Moderate Intensity Exercise


You can join if…

Open to people ages 40-80

  • A diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson Disease based on the modified * United Kingdom (UK) PD brain bank criteria and which are consistent with recent criteria proposed for clinically established early established Parkinson's disease that no longer exclude individuals with a family history of Parkinson's disease.
  • Hoehn and Yahr stages less than 3
  • Disease duration: less than 3 years since disease diagnosis
  • Age 40-80 years
  • Positive DaTscan™ SPECT by quantitative readout for idiopathic Parkinson disease.

You CAN'T join if...

  • Currently being treated with PD medications such as levodopa or dopamine receptor agonists, monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B) inhibitors, amantadine, or anticholinergics.
  • Expected to require treatment with medication for PD in the first 6 months of the study.
  • Use of any PD medication 60 days prior to the baseline visit including but not limited to levodopa, direct dopamine agonists, amantadine, Rasagiline (Azilect), Selegiline (Eldepryl), Artane (trihexyphenidyl).
  • Duration of previous use of medications for PD exceeds 60 days.
  • Use of neuroleptics/dopamine receptor blockers for more than 30 days in the year prior to baseline visit, or any use within 30 days of baseline visit
  • Presence of known cardiovascular, metabolic, or renal disease or individuals with major signs or symptoms suggestive of cardiovascular, metabolic, or renal disease without medical clearance to participate in the exercise program.
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (resting blood pressure >150/90 mmHg)
  • Individuals with orthostatic hypotension and standing systolic BP below 100 will be excluded. Orthostatic hypotension (OH) is a reduction of systolic blood pressure of at least 20 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of at least 10 mm Hg within 3 minutes of standing.
  • Hypo- or hyperthyroidism (TSH <0.5 or >5.0 mU/L), abnormal liver function (AST or ALT more than 2 times the upper limit of normal), abnormal renal function (creatinine clearance calculated by the Cockcroft-Gault equation <50mL/min, or estimated glomerular filtration rate using the MDRD4 equation or the CKD-EPI equation <45mL/min/1.73m2 ).
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) out of range and physician's judgment that abnormal value is clinically significant.
  • Recent use of psychotropic medications (e.g., anxiolytics, hypnotics, benzodiazepines, antidepressants) where dosage has not been stable for 28 days prior to screening.
  • Serious illness (requiring systemic treatment and/or hospitalization) within the last 4 weeks.
  • Any other clinically significant medical condition, psychiatric condition, drug or alcohol abuse, assessment or laboratory abnormality that would, in the judgment of the investigator, interfere with the subject's ability to participate in the study.
  • Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) score of <24.
  • Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI) score > 28, indicating severe depression that precludes ability to exercise. Any subject with such a score will be referred to a PCP or physician for further evaluation and management of depression. Individuals with a

BDI-II score of 17-28 will be excluded if any of the following conditions are met: (1) individual is suicidal, (2) is in need of depression treatment modification currently or (3) depressive symptoms likely to interfere with adherence to study protocol. Any subject with such a score will be referred to a PCP or physician for further evaluation and management of depression.

  • Individuals who have been exercising at greater than moderate intensity for 120 minutes or more per week consistently over the last 6 months will be excluded. Greater than moderate intensity is defined as a range greater than 60-65% HRmax. These individuals are excluded since their exercise activities are greater than the activities they would experience if they were assigned to the 60-65% treatment group. As such, they would be expected to lose fitness.
  • Use of the following within 90 days prior to the dopamine transporter (DAT) neuroimaging screening evaluation: bupropion, modafinil, armodafinil, metoclopramide, alpha-methyldopa, methylphenidate, reserpine, any amphetamine or amphetamine derivative. These can compromise DaTscan™ SPECT.
  • Known allergy to iodinated products.
  • Known hypersensitivity to DaTscan™ SPECT (either to the active substance of 123I-ioflupane or any of the excipients.
  • (For women only) Actively breast-feeding an infant, and/or pregnant, or plan to become pregnant in the next 12 months.
  • Other disorders, injuries, diseases, or conditions that might interfere with ability to perform endurance exercises (e.g. history of stroke, respiratory problems, traumatic brain injury, orthopedic injury, or neuromuscular disease).


  • University of California, San Francisco accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94143 United States
  • University of Utah accepting new patients
    Salt Lake City Utah 84112 United States

Lead Scientists at UCSF

  • Carlie Tanner
  • Nijee Luthra
    Assistant Professor, Neurology, School of Medicine. Authored (or co-authored) 7 research publications


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
Northwestern University
Study Type
Last Updated