Update on the Mechanism of Action of Antiepileptic Drugs


Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Neurology, University of London, De Crespigny Park, Denmark Hill, Lon don SE5 8AF, England.


Summary: Novel antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are thought to act on voltage-sensitive ion channels, on inhibitory neurotransmission or on excitatory neurotransmission. Two successful examples of rational AED design that po tentiate GABA-mediated inhibition are vigabatrin (VGB) by irreversible inhibition of GABA-transaminase, and ti-agabine (TGB) by blocking GAB A uptake. Lamotrigine (LTG) prolongs inactivation of voltage-dependent sodium channels. The anticonvulsant action of remacemide (RCM) is probably largely due to blockade of NMDA receptors and prolonged inactivation of sodium channels induced by its desglycinated metabolite. Felbamate (FBM) apparently blocks NMDA receptors, potentiates GABA-mediated responses, blocks L-type calcium channels, and possibly also prolongs sodium channel inactivation. Similarly, to piramate (TPM) has multiple probable sites of action, including sodium channels, GABA receptors, and glutamate (AMPA) receptors. Gabapentin (GBP) apparently has a completely novel type of action, probably involving potentiation of GABA-mediated inhibition and possibly also inactivation of sodium channels. The therapeutic advantages of the novel AEDs are as yet only partially explained by our present understanding of their. Mechanisms of action.