Diuretics and epilepsy: will the past and present meet?

Epilepsia. 2011 Sep;52(9):1559-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03203.x. Epub 2011 Aug 12.


Clinical studies from over half a century ago suggested efficacy of a variety of diuretics in focal and generalized epilepsies as well as in status epilepticus, but these findings have not been translated into modern epilepsy training or practice. Recent advances in our understanding of neuronal maturation and the pathophysiology of neonatal seizures provide fresh insight into the mechanisms by which diuretics might reduce susceptibility to seizures. In vitro and in vivo rodent studies and human epilepsy surgical cases have shown that specific diuretic agents targeting the cation-chloride cotransporters decrease neuronal synchrony and neuronal hyperexcitability. These agents are thought to convey their antiepileptic activity by either expanding the extracellular space or promoting a cellular chloride transport balance that reflects a more developmentally "mature," less excitable state. It may be time to reexamine whether diuretics could serve as adjunctive therapies in the treatment of refractory epilepsies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Basic / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Cerebral Cortex / drug effects
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Diuretics / pharmacology
  • Diuretics / therapeutic use*
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy*
  • Epilepsy / pathology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism


  • Amino Acid Transport Systems, Basic
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Chlorides
  • Diuretics
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid