The pharmacokinetics of antiepileptic drugs in rats: consequences for maintaining effective drug levels during prolonged drug administration in rat models of epilepsy

Epilepsia. 2007 Jul;48(7):1245-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2007.01093.x. Epub 2007 Apr 18.


Rodent models of chronic epilepsy with spontaneous recurrent seizures likely represent the closest parallel to the human condition. Such models may be best suited for therapy discovery for pharmacoresistant epilepsy and for antiepileptogenic or disease-modifying therapeutics. However, the use of such rodent models for therapy discovery creates problems with regard to maintaining effective drug levels throughout a prolonged testing period. This is particularly due to the fact that rodents such as rats and mice eliminate most drugs much more rapidly than humans. Thus, knowledge about elimination rate of a test drug in a laboratory species is essential for development of a treatment paradigm that allows maintaining adequate drug levels in the system over the period of treatment. Currently, the most popular models of epilepsy with spontaneous seizures are poststatus epilepticus models of temporal lobe epilepsy in rats. Such models are both used for studies on antiepileptogenesis and drug resistance. For validation of these models, current antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) have to be used. In this article, the elimination rates of these AEDs and their effective plasma levels in rats are reviewed as a guide for developing treatment protocols for chronic drug testing. The advantages and disadvantages of several technologies for drug delivery are discussed, and some examples for calculation of adequate treatment protocols are given. As shown in this review, because of the rapid elimination of most AEDs in rats, it is no trivial task to maintain effective steady-state AED levels in the plasma throughout the day over multiple days to ensure that there will be adequate levels in the system for the purpose of the experiment. However, the use of an adequate dosing regimen that is based on elimination rate is an absolute prerequisite when using rat models for discovery of new antiepileptogenic therapies or therapies for pharmacoresistant epilepsy, because otherwise such models may lead to erroneous conclusions about drug efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / blood
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Epilepsy / blood
  • Epilepsy / metabolism*
  • Rats


  • Anticonvulsants