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Epilepsia. 2012 Jan;53(1):e5-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03322.x. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Genetic and environmental correlates of topiramate-induced cognitive impairment.

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  • 1Center for Human Genome Variation, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA.


Topiramate is an antiepileptic drug that has marked treatment-limiting side effects on specific aspects of cognitive performance in both patients and healthy volunteers. Because these severe side effects occur only in certain individuals, identifying genetic or environmental variables that influence cognitive response would be of great utility in determining whether to administer this drug to a patient. We gave an acute 100 mg oral dose of topiramate to 158 healthy volunteers and measured how the drug changed their performance on a diverse battery of cognitive tests. We found a wide range of responses to topiramate, and we demonstrated that not all tests in the battery were equally affected. There was no correlation between the effect of topiramate and either education level or baseline cognitive performance. Of interest, there was an up to 55-fold variation in the topiramate plasma levels of the participants. Our genome-wide association study (GWAS) of cognitive response did not reveal any genome-wide significant associations; the study was powered to find variants explaining at least 25% of the variation in cognitive response. Combining the results of this GWAS with a retrospective study of cognitive complaints in 290 epilepsy patients who received topiramate as part of their treatment also did not result in a significant association. Our results support the need for additional genetic studies of topiramate that use larger sample sizes.

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