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Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2011;49(1):148-52.

Levetiracetam protects hippocampal neurons in culture against hypoxia-induced injury.

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Department of Pediatric Neurology and Rehabilitation, Medical University of Bialystok, Poland.


Many experimental studies indicate that some antiepileptic drugs possess neuroprotective properties in varied models of neuronal injury. Levetiracetam is a second-generation antiepileptic drug with a novel mechanism of action. In the present study, we evaluated the putative neuroprotective effect of levetiracetam on primary hippocampal cultures at seven day in vitro. Cell death was induced by incubation of neural cultures in hypoxic conditions over 24 hours. Neuronal injury was assessed by morphometric investigation of death/total ratio of neurons in light microscopy using Trypan blue staining and by evaluation of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release in the culture medium. Our results indicate that pre-conditioning of hippocampal cultures with high concentrations of levetiracetam (100 μM and 300 μM) protects neurons against hypoxia-induced death. Two-fold higher number of neurons remained viable as compared to control cultures without drug. Lack of neuroprotective action of the drug on hippocampal neural cultures was observed, when a low concentration (10 μM) of levetiracetam was used.

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