Steady-state plasma and cerebrospinal fluid pharmacokinetics and tolerability of eslicarbazepine acetate and oxcarbazepine in healthy volunteers


Address correspondence to Patrício Soares-da-Silva, Department of Research and Development, BIAL, À Av. da Siderurgia Nacional, 4745-457 S. Mamede do Coronado, Portugal. E-mail:


Purpose:  To evaluate the pharmacokinetics and tolerability of once-daily eslicarbazepine acetate (ESL) and twice-daily oxcarbazepine (OXC) and their metabolites in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma following repeated oral administration.

Methods:  Single-center, open-label, randomized, parallel-group study in healthy volunteers. Volunteers in ESL group (n = 7) received 600 mg on days 1–3 and 1,200 mg on days 4–9, once daily. Volunteers in the OXC group (n = 7) received 300 mg on days 1–3 and 600 mg on days 4–9, twice daily. Plasma and CSF sampling was performed following the last dose.

Key Findings:  Eslicarbazepine was the major drug entity in plasma and CSF, accounting for, respectively, 93.84% and 91.96% of total exposure in the ESL group and 78.06% and 76.42% in the OXC group. The extent of exposure to drug entities R-licarbazepine and oxcarbazepine was approximately four-fold higher with OXC as compared with ESL. There was relatively little fluctuation from peak-to-trough (ratio) in the CSF for both eslicarbazepine (ESL = 1.5; OXC = 1.2) and R-licarbazepine (ESL = 1.2; OXC = 1.2). In contrast, oxcarbazepine showed larger differences between peak and trough (ESL = 3.1; OXC = 6.4). A total of 84 and 24 treatment-emergent adverse events (TEAEs) were reported with OXC and ESL, respectively.

Significance:  In comparison to OXC, administration of ESL resulted in more eslicarbazepine, less R-licarbazepine, and less oxcarbazepine in plasma and CSF, which may correlate with the tolerability profile reported with ESL. The smaller peak-to-trough fluctuation of eslicarbazepine in CSF (a measure of sustained delivery to the brain) than in plasma supports once-daily dosing of ESL.