Associazione Italiana del Farmaco, Cancer Research UK, Oncosuisse, and Swiss National Foundation.
Summary: Long-term antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy is the reality for the majority of patients diagnosed with epilepsy. One AED will usually be sufficient to control seizures effectively, but a significant proportion of patients will need to receive a multiple AED regimen. Furthermore, polytherapy may be necessary for the treatment of concomitant disease. The fact that over-the-counter drugs and nutritional supplements are increasingly being self-administered by patients also must be considered. Therefore the probability of patients with epilepsy experiencing drug interactions is high, particularly with the traditional AEDs, which are highly prone to drug interactions. Physicians prescribing AEDs to patients with epilepsy must, therefore, be aware of the potential for drug interactions and the effects (pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic) that can occur both during combination therapy and on drug discontinuation. Although pharmacokinetic interactions are numerous and well described, pharmacodynamic interactions are few and usually concluded by default. Perhaps the most clinically significant pharmacodynamic interaction is that of lamotrigine (LTG) and valproic acid (VPA); these drugs exhibit synergistic efficacy when coadministered in patients with refractory partial and generalised seizures. Hepatic metabolism is often the target for pharmacokinetic drug interactions, and enzyme-inducing drugs such as phenytoin (PHT), phenobarbitone (PB), and carbamazepine (CBZ) will readily enhance the metabolism of other AEDs [e.g., LTG, topiramate (TPM), and tiagabine (TGB)].The enzyme-inducing AEDs also enhance the metabolism of many other drugs (e.g., oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and warfarin) so that therapeutic efficacy of coadministered drugs is lost unless the dosage is increased. VPA inhibits the metabolism of PB and LTG, resulting in an elevation in the plasma concentrations of the inhibited drugs and consequently an increased risk of toxicity. The inhibition of the metabolism of CBZ by VPA results in an elevation of the metabolite CBZepoxide, which also increases the risk of toxicity. Other examples include the inhibition of PHT and CBZ metabolism by cimetidine and CBZ metabolism by erythromycin. In recent years, a more rational approach has been taken with regard to metabolic drug interactions because of our enhanced understanding of the cytochrome P450 system that is responsible for the metabolism of many drugs, including AEDs. The review briefly discusses the mechanisms of drug interactions and then proceeds to highlight some of the more clinically relevant drug interactions between AEDs and between AEDs and non-AEDs. Understanding the fundamental principles that contribute to a drug interaction may help the physician to better anticipate a drug interaction and allow a graded and planned therapeutic response and, therefore, help to enhance the management of patients with epilepsy who may require treatment with polytherapy regimens.
Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco, Cancer Research UK, Oncosuisse, and Swiss National Science Foundation.
Psychotropic drugs, especially antidepressants and antipsychotics, may give rise to some concern in clinical practice because of their known ability to reduce seizure threshold and to provoke epileptic seizures. Although the phenomenon has been described with almost all the available compounds, neither its real magnitude nor the seizurogenic potential of individual drugs have been clearly established so far. In large investigations, seizure incidence rates have been reported to range from approximately 0.1 to approximately 1.5% in patients treated with therapeutic doses of most commonly used antidepressants and antipsychotics (incidence of the first unprovoked seizure in the general population is 0.07 to 0.09%). In patients who have taken an overdose, the seizure risk rises markedly, achieving values of approximately 4 to approximately 30%. This large variability, probably due to methodological differences among studies, makes data confusing and difficult to interpret. Agreement, however, converges on the following: seizures triggered by psychotropic drugs are a dose-dependent adverse effect; maprotiline and clomipramine among antidepressants and chlorpromazine and clozapine among antipsychotics that have a relatively high seizurogenic potential; phenelzine, tranylcypromine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine and trazodone among antidepressants and fluphenazine, haloperidol, pimozide and risperidone among antipsychotics that exhibit a relatively low risk. Apart from drug-related factors, seizure precipitation during psychotropic drug medication is greatly influenced by the individual's inherited seizure threshold and, particularly, by the presence of seizurogenic conditions (such as history of epilepsy, brain damage, etc.). Pending identification of compounds with less or no effect on seizure threshold and formulation of definite therapeutic guidelines especially for patients at risk for seizures, the problem may be minimised through careful evaluation of the possible presence of seizurogenic conditions and simplification of the therapeutic scheme (low starting doses/slow dose escalation, maintenance of the minimal effective dose, avoidance of complex drug combinations, etc.). Although there is sufficient evidence that psychotropic drugs may lower seizure threshold, published literature data have also suggested that an appropriate psychotropic therapy may not only improve the mental state in patients with epilepsy, but also exert antiepileptic effects through a specific action. Further scientific research is warranted to clarify all aspects characterising the complex link between seizure threshold and psychotropic drugs.
PURPOSE We investigated the effect on minimal residual disease, by qualitative and real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RQ-PCR), of a consolidation regimen that included bortezomib, thalidomide, and dexamethasone (VTD) in patients with multiple myeloma (MM) responding to autologous stem-cell transplantation (auto-SCT). PATIENTS AND METHODS Patients achieving at least very good partial response who had an available molecular marker based on the immunoglobulin heavy-chain rearrangement received four courses of treatment every month: four infusions per month of bortezomib at 1.6 mg/m(2), thalidomide at 200 mg/d, and dexamethasone at 20 mg/d on days 1 to 4, 8 to 11, and 15 to 18. Patients were studied with tumor-clone-specific primers by qualitative nested PCR and RQ-PCR. Results Of 39 patients enrolled, 31 received the four VTD courses. Immunofixation complete responses increased from 15% after auto-SCT to 49% after VTD. Molecular remissions (MRs) were 3% after auto-SCT and 18% after VTD. Median time to maximum response was 3.5 months. So far, no patient in MR has relapsed (median follow-up, 42 months). VTD consolidation induced an additional depletion of 4.14 natural logarithms of tumor burden by RQ-PCR. Patients with a tumor load less than the median value after VTD had outcomes better than those who had tumor loads above the median value after VTD (at median follow-up: progression-free survival, 100% v 57%; P < .001). CONCLUSION To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to document the occurrence of persistent MRs in a proportion of MM patients treated without allogeneic transplantation. Moreover, the major reduction in tumor load recorded by RQ-PCR after VTD suggests that unprecedented levels of tumor cell reduction can be achieved in MM thanks to the new nonchemotherapeutic drugs.
Newborns with status epilepticus are at high risk of severe neurologic disability and postneonatal epilepsy. This is particularly evident in early preterm and full-term infants.
Summary:Purpose: To assess the comparative therapeutic value of valproate (VPA), lamotrigine (LTG), and their combination in patients with complex partial seizures resistant to other established antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).Methods: After a 3-month prospective baseline, 20 adults with refractory complex partial seizures not exposed previously to VPA and LTG were scheduled to receive three consecutive add-on treatments with VPA, LTG, or their combination, according to an open, response-conditional, crossover design. Each period consisted of a 6-to 12-week dose optimization followed by 3-month evaluation at stabilized serum drug levels. Only patients not responding to one phase proceeded to the next.Results: A >50% reduction in seizure frequency was observed in three of 20 patients given VPA and in four of 17 patients given LTG. Of the remaining 13 patients, four became seizure free, and an additional four experienced seizure reductions of 62-78% when VPA and LTG were given in combination. Mild tremor was observed in three patients receiving VPA and in all patients taking the VPA-LTG combination. In patients responding to combination therapy, optimized dosages and peak serum levels of both VPA and LTG were lower than those during separate administration.Conclusions: A considerable proportion of patients who failed to respond to VPA and LTG separately improved when the two drugs were combined, although serum levels of both agents were lower during combination therapy. Despite methodologic limitations in the nonrandomized treatment sequence, these findings suggest that VPA and LTG exhibit a favorable phmacodynamic interaction in patients with refractory partial epilepsy. The dosage of both drugs, however, may need to be reduced to minimize the risk of intolerable side effects.
Summary: Purpose: Alterations in neuronal calcium (Ca2+) homeostasis are believed to play an essential role in the generation and propagation of epileptiform events. Levetiracetam (LEV) and lamotrigine (LTG), novel antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), were tested on epileptiform events and the corresponding elevations in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) recorded from rat neocortical slices. Methods: Electrophysiological recordings were performed from single pyramidal neurons from a slice preparation. Spontaneous epileptiform events consisting of long‐lasting, repetitive paroxysmal depolarization shifts (PDSs) and interictal spike activity were induced by reducing the magnesium concentration from the solution and by adding bicuculline and 4‐aminopyridine. Simultaneously, microfluorimetric measurements of [Ca2+]i were performed. Optical imaging with Ca2+ indicators revealed a close correlation between Ca2+ transients and epileptiform events. Results: Both LEV and LTG were able to reduce both amplitude and duration of PDSs, as well as the concomitant elevation in [Ca2+]i, in a dose‐dependent fashion. Whole‐cell patch‐clamp recordings from isolated neocortical neurons revealed that LEV significantly reduced N‐, and partially P/Q‐type high‐voltage‐activated (HVA) Ca2+ currents, whereas sodium currents were unaffected. Interestingly, the inhibitory effects of LEV were mimicked and occluded by LTG or by a combination of ω‐conotoxin GVIA and ω‐agatoxin IVA, selective blockers of N‐ and P/Q‐type HVA channels, respectively, suggesting a common site of action for these AEDs. Conclusions: These results demonstrate that large, transient elevations in neuronal [Ca2+]i correlate to epileptiform discharges. The antagonistic effects of LEV and LTG on [Ca2+]i overload might represent the basis for their anticonvulsant efficacy and could preserve neuronal viability.
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