New developments in antiepileptic drug resistance: an integrative view

Epilepsy Curr. Mar-Apr 2009;9(2):47-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1535-7511.2008.01289.x.


Current theories on drug resistance in epilepsy include the drug transporter hypothesis, the drug target hypothesis, and a novel approach called the inherent severity model of epilepsy, which posits that the severity of the disease determines its relative response to medication. Valuable as each of these hypotheses is, none is currently a stand-alone theory that is able to convincingly explain drug resistance in human epilepsy. As a consequence, it may be of interest to update and integrate the various hypotheses of drug resistance and to explore possible links to the severity of epilepsy. The observation that a high frequency of seizures prior to onset of treatment is a prognostic signal of increased severity and future drug failure suggests that common neurobiological factors may underlie both disease severity and pharmacoresistance. Such a link has been proposed for depression; however, the evidence for a direct mechanistic link, genetic or otherwise, between drug response and disease severity of human epilepsy is still elusive. Although emerging data from experimental studies suggest that alterations in GABA(A) receptors may present one example of a mechanistic link, clearly more work is needed to explore whether common neurobiological factors may underlie both epilepsy severity and drug failure.