Intravenous levetiracetam in the rat pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus model: behavioral, physiological and histological studies

Neuropharmacology. 2010 Mar-Apr;58(4-5):793-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2009.12.007. Epub 2009 Dec 21.


Purpose: Status epilepticus is a neurological emergency associated with neuronal injury, lasting behavioral disturbance, and a high rate of mortality. Intravenous levetiracetam (LEV), an anti-epileptic drug approved to treat partial seizures, has recently been introduced. We sought to determine the effect of LEV administered intravenously in a chemoconvulsant model of status epilepticus.

Methods: We examined the effect of intravenous LEV in the rat lithium-pilocarpine model of status epilepticus. Ten or 30 min after the onset of behavioral status epilepticus, animals were treated with LEV (200-1200 mg/kg i.v.) administered in a single bolus. Behavioral responses were recorded. Selected animals had continuous EEG recording before, during and after the administration of LEV. Some animals were sacrificed 24 h after the experiment and processed for histochemical assessment of neuronal injury.

Results: When administered 30 min after the onset of behavioral epileptic seizures, transient attenuation of ictal behavior was observed in animals treated with 800 mg/kg or more of LEV. The duration of behavioral attenuation increased sharply as the dose rose to 1000 mg/kg or higher, from a mean of 4-23.6 min. When administered 10 min after seizure onset, 400 mg/kg of LEV resulted in transient ictal behavioral attenuation, and higher doses caused relatively longer periods of attenuation. Pretreatment with LEV prior to pilocarpine also delayed the onset of seizures. EEG recordings, however, showed no significant attenuation of ictal discharge. By contrast, TUNEL staining demonstrated less neuronal injury in hippocampii and other limbic structures in animals that responded behaviorally to LEV.

Conclusions: Intravenous administration of LEV in a chemoconvulsant model of status epilepticus results in attenuation of behavioral manifestations of seizure discharge and in reduction of neuronal injury but does not significantly alter ictal discharge recorded by EEG.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Levetiracetam
  • Male
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Pilocarpine / toxicity*
  • Piracetam / administration & dosage
  • Piracetam / analogs & derivatives*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Status Epilepticus / chemically induced
  • Status Epilepticus / drug therapy*
  • Status Epilepticus / pathology
  • Status Epilepticus / physiopathology*


  • Pilocarpine
  • Levetiracetam
  • Piracetam