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Drugs. 2011 Mar 5;71(4):489-514. doi: 10.2165/11204490-000000000-00000.

Levetiracetam: a review of its use in epilepsy.

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Adis, a Wolters Kluwer Business, Auckland, New Zealand.


Levetiracetam (Keppra®, E Keppra®) is an established second-generation antiepileptic drug (AED). Worldwide, levetiracetam is most commonly approved as adjunctive treatment of partial onset seizures with or without secondary generalization; other approved indications include monotherapy treatment of partial onset seizures with or without secondary generalization, and adjunctive treatment of myoclonic seizures associated with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy and primary generalized tonic-clonic (GTC) seizures associated with idiopathic generalized epilepsy. Levetiracetam has a novel structure and unique mechanisms of action. Unlike other AEDs, the mechanisms of action of levetiracetam appear to involve neuronal binding to synaptic vesicle protein 2A, inhibiting calcium release from intraneuronal stores, opposing the activity of negative modulators of GABA- and glycin-gated currents and inhibiting excessive synchronized activity between neurons. In addition, levetiracetam inhibits N-type calcium channels. Levetiracetam is associated with rapid and complete absorption, high oral bioavailability, minimal metabolism that consists of hydrolysis of the acetamide group, and primarily renal elimination. It lacks cytochrome P450 isoenzyme-inducing potential and is not associated with clinically significant pharmacokinetic interactions with other drugs, including other AEDs. The efficacy of oral immediate-release levetiracetam in controlling seizures has been established in numerous randomized, double-blind, controlled, multicentre trials in patients with epilepsy. Adjunctive levetiracetam reduced the frequency of seizures in paediatric and adult patients with refractory partial onset seizures to a significantly greater extent than placebo. Monotherapy with levetiracetam was noninferior to that with carbamazepine controlled release in controlling seizures in patients with newly diagnosed partial onset seizures. Levetiracetam also provided seizure control relative to placebo as adjunctive therapy in patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy with myoclonic seizures or GTC seizures. In addition, patients receiving oral levetiracetam showed improvements in measures of health-related quality of life relative to those receiving placebo. Although treatment-emergent adverse events were commonly reported in the clinical trials of levetiracetam, the overall proportion of patients who experienced at least one treatment-emergent adverse event was broadly similar in the levetiracetam and placebo treatment groups, with most events being mild to moderate in severity. Levetiracetam is not associated with cognitive impairment or drug-induced weight gain, but has been associated with behavioural adverse effects in some patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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