Comparison of status epilepticus models induced by pilocarpine and nerve agents - a systematic review of the underlying aetiology and adopted therapeutic approaches

Curr Med Chem. 2011;18(6):886-99. doi: 10.2174/092986711794927720.


Among potential radiological, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, cholinergic nerve agents from chemical weapons remain a realistic terrorist threat due to its combination of high lethality, demonstrated use and relative abundance of un-destroyed stockpiles in various militaries around the world. While current fielded antidotes are able to mitigate acute poisoning, effective neuroprotection in the field remains a challenge amongst subjects with established status epilepticus following nerve agent intoxication. Due to ethical, safety and surety issues, extensive preclinical and clinical research on cholinergic nerve agents is not possible. This may have been a contributory factor for the slow progress in uncovering new neuroprotectants for nerve agent casualties with established status epilepticus. To overcome this challenge, comparative research with surrogate chemicals that produce similar hypercholinergic toxicity but with less security concerns would be a useful approach forward. In this paper, we will systemically compare the mechanism of seizure generation, propagation and the subsequent clinical, hematologic, and metabolic, biochemical, neuroinflammatory changes and current therapeutic approaches reported in pilocarpine, soman, and sarin models of seizures. This review will be an important first step in closing this knowledge gap among different closely related models of seizures and neurotoxicity. Hopefully, it will spur further efforts in using surrogate cholinergic models by the wider scientific community to expedite the development of a new generation of antidotes that are better able to protect against delayed neurological effects inflicted by nerve agents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / pharmacology*
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / toxicity
  • Humans
  • Pilocarpine / pharmacology*
  • Pilocarpine / toxicity
  • Sarin / pharmacology
  • Sarin / toxicity
  • Soman / pharmacology
  • Soman / toxicity
  • Status Epilepticus / chemically induced*
  • Status Epilepticus / etiology
  • Status Epilepticus / metabolism
  • Status Epilepticus / therapy*


  • Chemical Warfare Agents
  • Pilocarpine
  • Soman
  • Sarin