Monotherapy for partial epilepsy: focus on levetiracetam
Antonio Gambardella1,2, Angelo Labate1,2, Eleonora Colosimo1, Roberta Ambrosio1, Aldo Quattrone1,2
1Institute of Neurology, University Magna Græcia, Catanzaro, Italy; 2Institute of Neurological Sciences, National Research Council, Piano Lago di Mangone, Cosenza, Italy
Abstract: Levetiracetam (LEV), the S-enantiomer of alpha-ethyl-2-oxo-1-pyrollidine acetamide, is a recently licensed antiepileptic drug (AED) for adjunctive therapy of partial seizures. Its mechanism of action is uncertain but it exhibits a unique profile of anticonvulsant activity in models of chronic epilepsy. Five randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials enrolling adult or pediatric patients with refractory partial epilepsy have demonstrated the efficacy of LEV as adjunctive therapy, with a responder rate (≥50% reduction in seizure frequency) of 28%–45%. Long-term efficacy studies suggest retention rates of 60% after one year, with 13% of patients seizure-free for 6 months of the study and 8% seizure-free for 1 year. More recent studies illustrated successful conversion to monotherapy in patients with refractory epilepsy, and its effectiveness as a single agent in partial epilepsy. LEV has also efficacy in generalized epilepsies. Adverse effects of LEV, including somnolence, lethargy, and dizziness, are generally mild and their occurrence rate seems to be not significantly different from that observed in placebo groups. LEV also has no clinically significant pharmacokinetic interactions with other AEDs, or with commonly prescribed medications. The combination of effective antiepileptic properties with a relatively mild adverse effect profile makes LEV an attractive therapy for partial seizures.
Keywords: levetiracetam, partial epilepsy, antiepileptic drugs
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