A once-per-day, drug-in-food protocol for prolonged administration of antiepileptic drugs in animal models


Address correspondence to F. Edward Dudek, Department of Physiology, University of Utah School of Medicine, 420 Chipeta Way, Suite 1700, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, U.S.A. E-mail: ed.dudek@hsc.utah.edu


Purpose:  Convenient and effective methods for administering potential antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) chronically should facilitate many experiments in animal models of chronic epilepsy with spontaneous recurrent seizures. This proof-of-principle study aimed to optimize a once-per-day, drug-in-food protocol by testing the effect of carbamazepine (CBZ) on the frequency of convulsive seizures in rats with kainate-induced epilepsy.

Methods:  Adult male rats were given repeated low-dose kainate injections until convulsive status epilepticus persisted for >3 h. After the rats developed spontaneous recurrent seizures, food pellets with CBZ (30, 100, or 300 mg/kg/day) were provided once per day in three 2-week trials (n = 7–9 rats) involving 5 days of CBZ or control treatment, separated by two recovery days within a trial. The total amount of food provided and consumed per day corresponded to a normal caloric diet (60 g/kg/day).

Key Findings:  When provided once per day, all animals ate the CBZ-containing food irregularly but continuously throughout the 24-h day. With this daily feeding protocol, CBZ significantly reduced the frequency of spontaneous convulsive seizures in a dose-dependent manner. It is important to note that the effect of CBZ was consistent across the 5 days and throughout each day of the trials. With food administered at 9:00 a.m., and blood assayed at 5:00 p.m., higher food levels of CBZ resulted in higher plasma concentrations of CBZ.

Significance:  This AED-in-food protocol is simple, efficient, inexpensive, reliable, and noninvasive; it allows easier long-term drug administration and is less stressful and more humane than other methods of AED administration.