Mechanisms of Anticonvulsant Action

  • Michael E. Selzer
  • Elizabeth M. Adler
  • Gabi David
  • Yoel Yaari


It is an ideal in medicine to gain an understanding of the basic pathogenetic mechanisms underlying a disease, so that this may be used to devise more effective treatments. Much of the research into cancer chemotherapy is based on such strategies. Similarly, the recent trials of azidothymidine in the treatment of AIDS were based on the hypothesis that replication of the HIV virus entails reverse transcription from RNA to DNA in the host cell and consequently should be inhibited by blocking this process. But often it is difficult to be certain that the experimental model of disease is really identical to the human ailment, so that the pathogenetic abnormalities remain unclear. In such cases, if a relatively effective treatment has been developed on empirical grounds, then the elucidation of its cellular and molecular mechanisms of action may validate the proposed pathogenetic hypothesis. A striking example of the latter is schizophrenia. The discovery of the potent antidopaminergic actions of the phenothiazine drugs and the relationship of the relative strengths of their dopamine blocking action to their therapeutic efficacies has provided a major block of evidence supporting the dopamine hypothesis of the disease (49). The reinforced pathogenetic hypothesis then led to the development of additional antidopaminergic neuroleptic drugs, some of which were not phenothiazines. We believe that epilepsy is another disease in which experimental models have provided insights into the mechanisms of action of antiepileptic drugs, while the discoveries of the cellular and molecular mechanisms of action of known anticonvulsants have shed light on the pathogenesis of epilepsy.


Sodium Channel Trigeminal Neuralgia Anticonvulsant Action Repetitive Firing Squid Giant Axon 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Selzer
    • 1
  • Elizabeth M. Adler
    • 1
  • Gabi David
    • 2
  • Yoel Yaari
    • 2
  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PhysiologyHebrew University-Hadassah School of MedicineJerusalemIsrael

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