Region-specific changes in gene expression in rat brain after chronic treatment with levetiracetam or phenytoin

Epilepsia. 2010 Sep;51(9):1714-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2010.02545.x.


Purpose: It is commonly assumed that antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) act similarly in the various parts of the brain as long as their molecular targets are present. A few experimental studies on metabolic effects of vigabatrin, levetiracetam, valproate, and lamotrigine have shown that these drugs may act differently in different brain regions. We examined effects of chronic treatment with levetiracetam or phenytoin on mRNA levels to detect regional drug effects in a broad, nonbiased manner.

Methods: mRNA levels were monitored in three brain regions with oligonucleotide-based microarrays.

Results: Levetiracetam (150 mg/kg for 90 days) changed the expression of 65 genes in pons/medulla oblongata, two in hippocampus, and one in frontal cortex. Phenytoin (75 mg/kg), in contrast, changed the expression of only three genes in pons/medulla oblongata, but 64 genes in hippocampus, and 327 genes in frontal cortex. Very little overlap between regions or drug treatments was observed with respect to effects on gene expression.

Discussion: We conclude that chronic treatment with levetiracetam or phenytoin causes region-specific and highly differential effects on gene expression in the brain. Regional effects on gene expression could reflect regional differences in molecular targets of AEDs, and they could influence the clinical profiles of AEDs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / drug effects
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology
  • Hippocampus / drug effects
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Levetiracetam
  • Medulla Oblongata
  • Models, Animal
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods
  • Phenytoin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Phenytoin / pharmacology
  • Piracetam / analogs & derivatives*
  • Piracetam / pharmacokinetics
  • Piracetam / pharmacology
  • Pons
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tissue Distribution / drug effects


  • Anticonvulsants
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Levetiracetam
  • Phenytoin
  • Piracetam