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New developments in the treatment of partial-onset epilepsy

Authors Besag F, Patsalos P

Received 2 July 2012

Accepted for publication 23 August 2012

Published 17 October 2012 Volume 2012:8 Pages 455—464

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S25099

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5


Frank MC Besag,1,2 Philip N Patsalos3,4

1South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT), Mid Beds Clinic, Bedford, Bedfordshire, UK; 2Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK; 3Pharmacology and Therapeutics Unit, Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, UCL-Institute of Neurology, London, UK; 4Epilepsy Society, Chalfont Centre for Epilepsy, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, UK


Abstract: Although most people presenting with partial-onset seizures will achieve control with antiepileptic medication, a considerable minority will have difficult-to-treat epilepsy that is resistant to existing medication. Over the last few years, a large number of new antiepileptic drugs have been developed. Some of these have a novel mode of action. Many of the older antiepileptic drugs act through sodium channels or by enhancement of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). Lamotrigine has sodium-channel blocking properties but also has other important modes of action, indicated by efficacy in treating not only partial-onset but also generalized seizures. Vigabatrin and tiagabine both increase GABA activity, by inhibiting GABA transaminase and limiting GABA reuptake, respectively. The main mode of action of gabapentin and pregabalin is not via GABA but through a selective inhibitory effect on voltage-gated calcium channels containing the α2δ-1 subunit. Levetiracetam inhibits the recycling of SV2A (synaptic vesicle protein 2A) neurotransmitter vesicles but also has other effects, including inhibition of voltage-dependent calcium channels. Some drugs, eg, felbamate, zonisamide, and topiramate, have multiple modes of action. In many cases, although the main mode of action may have been identified, other modes of action also play a role. Two recently developed antiepileptic drugs appear to have completely novel primary modes of action; retigabine (ezogabine) and perampanel act on the potassium channel and on AMPA (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) receptors, respectively. The hope is that antiepileptic drugs with a novel mode of action will be effective where previous drugs have failed and will not have unacceptable adverse effects. However, experience with these medications is too limited to allow any conclusions to be drawn at present.

Keywords: partial-onset seizures, difficult-to-treat epilepsy, antiepileptic drugs

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