Carbamazepine-10,11-epoxide in therapeutic drug monitoring

Ther Drug Monit. 1998 Dec;20(6):652-7. doi: 10.1097/00007691-199812000-00012.


Carbamazepine (CBZ) is widely used in the treatment of epilepsy, frequently in combination with other anticonvulsants. Its metabolite, carbamazepine-10,11-epoxide, is pharmacologically active and is increased with concurrent use of valproate and other anticonvulsants. This pharmacokinetic interaction may be particularly important because CBZ, its epoxide, phenytoin, and lamotrigine all act on fast voltage-dependent sodium channels. Over a 2-month period, routine serum requests for CBZ (n=47) (excluding known cases of overdose) were also analyzed for CBZ epoxide, phenytoin, and lamotrigine using a simultaneous high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC) method. Valproate was measured using fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA). With concurrent phenytoin and lamotrigine administration, there was a relative increase in CBZ epoxide and a significant decrease in the ratio of CBZ to epoxide (from more than 5 to 3). If valproate was also present, the concentration of parent and metabolite increased significantly, causing potential toxicity. Two patients in this latter group had significant clinical toxicity, with parent CBZ concentrations in the reference range; a third patient suffered from poor control of seizures. This study illustrates the importance of awareness of the contribution of active metabolites in therapeutic drug monitoring and raises questions about the role of the routine monitoring of such metabolites.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Anticonvulsants / metabolism*
  • Carbamazepine / adverse effects
  • Carbamazepine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carbamazepine / blood
  • Carbamazepine / metabolism
  • Carbamazepine / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Female
  • Fluorescence Polarization Immunoassay
  • Humans
  • Lamotrigine
  • Phenytoin / analysis
  • Phenytoin / pharmacology
  • Sodium Channels / drug effects
  • Triazines / analysis
  • Triazines / pharmacology
  • Valproic Acid / adverse effects
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Sodium Channels
  • Triazines
  • Carbamazepine
  • Valproic Acid
  • Phenytoin
  • carbamazepine epoxide
  • Lamotrigine