Basic Mechanisms of Action of the Antiepileptic Drugs

R. Kuzmanova 1 , 2  and I. Stefanova 1
  • 1 University Hospital of Neurology and Psychiatry “Sv. Naum”, , Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 2 Medical University, , Sofia


Available antiepileptic drugs interact with a variety of different molecular targets. The mechanism of action of most anticonvulsants is most often complex with a number of affected regions. The combination of mechanisms of action of drugs in particular proportions can possibly determine the showcase of its antiepileptic activity. The common factor between the different supposed mechanisms for a number of drugs includes the possibility for modulating the excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission through effects upon the voltage-gated ion channels, synaptic plasticity, heterogeneous receptors, and metabolism of neurotransmitters. There are controversial data on the extent to which a specific action can be the reason for the wholesome anticonvulsive characteristics of various medications, as well as the relation with the presence of undesired drug effects. The complexity of the action of some antiepileptic drugs creates conditions for optimal choice during therapy. In many cases, the insufficient familiarity with individual genetic differences and the disease related receptor damages can hinder defining a particular drug action. Characterizing the mechanisms of action of the present antiepileptic medications would increase the understanding for the pathophysiological mechanisms of epileptic seizures, as well as the development of new therapeutic strategies. The development of novel antiepileptic drugs and the ongoing research regarding the mechanism of action of established antiepileptic drugs, are continuously increasing the level of complexity in the spectrum of molecular targets relevant for epilepsy therapy. The current state of knowledge as well as the limitations in our understanding should guide future research aiming for a more detailed elucidation of the impact of genetics and pathophysiological mechanisms on interindividual differences in expression and function of antiepileptic drug targets.

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