Describe the physiological basis for the mechanism of action of three commonly used anticonvulsant groups. Give an example of a drug for each mechanism of action.

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College Answer

The three main anticonvulsant mechanisms required were:

1. Sodium channel blockers. These promote the inactive state of voltage activated Na
channels. Sodium channels are unable to open for a period of time making the neuron
more refractory to action potential generation. Rapid repetitive firing is diminished and
spread of electrical activity to adjacent brain areas is suppressed.
Examples: phenytoin, carbamazepine, lamotrgine, Na valproate

2. Drugs that enhance GABA mediated synaptic inhibition. This increases the influx of
chloride ions into the cell and hyperpolarizes the neuron. 3 mechanisms:
a. Act on GABA receptor. Example: benzodiazepines, barbiturates

b. Inhibit GABA transporter and reduce neuronal GABA reuptake. Example: tiagabine.
c. Promote GABA release. Example: gabapentin.

3. Drugs that inhibit Calcium channels. Limit activation of voltage activated Ca channel
known as the T current. Example.: Na valproate
Other mechanisms of action with examples if described earned extra marks. These included
glutamate /NMDA receptor inhibition. Example: magnesium.