A quick review of carbamazepine pharmacokinetics in epilepsy from 1953 to 2012

Zahra Tolou-Ghamari, Mohammad Zare, Jafar Mehvari Habibabadi, Mohammad Reza Najafi


  • Background: Carbamazepine has been used as AEDs since 1965, and is most effective against partial seizures. Two basic mechanisms of action have been proposed: 1) enhancement of sodium channel inactivation by reducing high-frequency repetitive firing of action potentials, 2) and action on synaptic transmission. The aim of this study was to provide a review of carbamazepine pharmacokinetics and its management guidelines in an Iranian epileptic population.
  • Materials and Methods: Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), Google Scholar, Pubmed (NLM), LISTA (EBSCO), Web of Science were searched; 1600, 722 and 167 research and review articles relevant to the topics; carbamazepine pharmacokinetics, carbamazepine pharmacokinetics in epilepsy and review on carbamazepine pharmacokinetics in epilepsy were found, respectively.
  • Results:Carbamazepine is highly bound to plasma proteins. In patients the protein-bound fraction ranged from 75-80% of the total plasma concentration. Bioavailability ranges from 75-85%. The rate or extent of absorption was not be affected by food. It is completely metabolized and the main metabolite is carbamazepine-epoxide (CBZ-E). Carbamazepine induces its own metabolism, leading to increased clearance, shortened serum half-life, and progressive decrease in serum levels. Increases in daily dosage are necessary to maintain plasma concentration. Severe liver dysfunction may cause disordered pharmacokinetics. In cardiac failure, congestion of major vital organs, including kidneys, may result in abnormally slow absorption and metabolism.
  • Conclusion:Carbamazepine shows variability due to its narrow therapeutic window. Therefore clinical management in a3n Iranian epileptic population should focus on results derived from therapeutic drug monitoring in order to reduce inter and intra- individual variability in plasma drug concentrations. 
  • Keywords: Carbamazepine, epilepsy, epoxide, pharmacokinetics, review

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