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Epilepsia. 2012 Apr;53(4):596-605. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2012.03427.x. Epub 2012 Mar 14.

Preclinical antiepileptic actions of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors--implications for clinical trial design.

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Department of Physiology, Otago School of Medical Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can reduce seizure frequency in humans, but no large-scale clinical trials have been done to test the utility of SSRIs as potential antiepileptic drugs. This may be caused in part by a small number of reports on seizures triggered by SSRI treatment. The preclinical literature on SSRIs is somewhat conflicting, which is likely to contribute to the hesitance in accepting SSRIs as possible anticonvulsant drug therapy. A careful review of preclinical studies reveals that SSRIs appear to have region-specific and seizure subtype-specific effects, with models of chronic partial epilepsy being more likely to respond than models of acute generalized seizures. Moreover, this preclinical profile is similar to that of clinical antiepileptic drugs. These observations suggest that SSRIs are promising antiepileptic agents, and that clinical trials may benefit from defining patient groups according to the underlying pathology.

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