Characterization of pharmacoresistance to benzodiazepines in the rat Li-pilocarpine model of status epilepticus

Epilepsy Res. 2002 Aug;50(3):301-12. doi: 10.1016/s0920-1211(02)00085-2.


Status epilepticus is usually initially treated with a benzodiazepine such as diazepam. During prolonged seizures, however, patients often lose their sensitivity to benzodiazepines, thus developing pharmacoresistant seizures. In rats, administration of LiCl followed 20-24 h later by pilocarpine induces a continuous, self-sustained, and reproducible form of status epilepticus that can be terminated with diazepam when it is administered soon after the pilocarpine injection. However, when administered after a 45 min delay, diazepam is less effective. Previous findings have suggested that the development of pharmacoresistance is related to the stage of status epilepticus. In the present study, we characterized the seizure stage-dependence of diazepam pharmacoresistance. Following administration of different doses of diazepam at varying time intervals after specific behaviorally- and electrographically-defined seizure stages, stage-, time-, and dose-dependent pharmacoresistance to diazepam developed. We also studied two other antiepileptic drugs commonly used in the treatment of status epilepticus, phenobarbital and phenytoin. Consistent with previous studies, our results indicated a similar relationship between stage, time and dose for phenobarbital, but not for phenytoin. Our data are consistent with rapid modulation of GABA(A) receptors during status epilepticus that may result in pharmacoresistance to antiepileptic drugs that enhance GABA(A) receptor-mediated inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines / pharmacology*
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Diazepam / pharmacology*
  • Diazepam / therapeutic use
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Resistance
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Lithium Chloride / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Muscarinic Agonists / adverse effects
  • Phenobarbital / pharmacology
  • Phenobarbital / therapeutic use
  • Phenytoin / pharmacology
  • Phenytoin / therapeutic use
  • Pilocarpine / adverse effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, GABA-A / drug effects
  • Receptors, GABA-A / physiology
  • Status Epilepticus / chemically induced
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / physiopathology
  • Time Factors


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Muscarinic Agonists
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Pilocarpine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Phenytoin
  • Lithium Chloride
  • Diazepam
  • Phenobarbital