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Indian J Hum Genet. 2011 May;17 Suppl 1:S4-S11. doi: 10.4103/0971-6866.80351.

Challenges and recommendations for conducting epidemiological studies in the field of epilepsy pharmacogenetics.

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Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Mall Road, Delhi, India.


Epilepsy is one of the most prevalent neurological disorders, afflicting approximately 50 million Indians. Owing to affordability and easy availability, use of first-generation antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) is heavily encouraged for the treatment of epilepsy in resource-limited countries such as India. Although first-generation AEDs are at par with second-generation AEDs in terms of efficacy, adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are quite common with them. This could be attributed to the inferior pharmacokinetic parameters such as nonlinear metabolism, narrow therapeutic index and formation of toxic intermediates. In addition, epilepsy patients may differ in the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles, with about 1/3(rd) of the population failing to respond to treatment. A proportion of this interindividual variability in response may be explained by genetic heterogeneity in the activity and expression of the network of proteins such as metabolizing enzymes, transporters and targets of AEDs. Over the last two decades, a considerable effort has been made by the scientific community for unraveling this genetic basis of variable response to AEDs. However, there have been inconsistencies in such genetic association studies conducted across different territories of the world. There could be several reasons underlying the poor replicability of these studies, mainly nonuniform phenotypic definitions, poor sample size and interethnic variability. In the present review article, we provide an overview of heterogeneity in study designs for conducting pharmacogenetic studies. In addition, critical recommendations required for overcoming such challenges imposed by pharmacogenetic epidemiological studies have been briefly discussed.


Epilepsy; pharmacogenomics; phenotype; sample size; study design

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