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.