The mechanisms of action of commonly used antiepileptic drugs

Patrick Kwan, Graeme J. Sills, Martin J. Brodie

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

233 Citations (Scopus)


In the past decade, nine new drugs have been licensed for the treatment of epilepsy. With limited clinical experience of these agents, the mechanisms of action of antiepileptic drugs may be an important criterion in the selection of the most suitable treatment regimens for individual patients. At the cellular level, three basic mechanisms are recognised: modulation of voltage-dependent ion channels, enhancement of inhibitory neurotransmission, and attenuation of excitatory transmission. In this review, we will attempt to introduce the concepts of ion channel and neurotransmitter modulation and, thereafter, group currently used antiepileptic drugs according to their principal mechanisms of action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Epilepsy
  • Mechanisms of action

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