The integrated effects of brivaracetam, a selective analog of levetiracetam, on ionic currents and neuronal excitability

Te Yu Hung, Sheng Nan Wu, Chin Wei Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Brivaracetam (BRV) is recognized as a novel third-generation antiepileptic drug approved for the treatment of epilepsy. Emerging evidence has demonstrated that it has potentially better efficacy and tolerability than its analog, Levetiracetam (LEV). This, however, cannot be explained by their common synaptic vesicle-binding mechanism. Whether BRV can affect different ionic currents and concert these effects to alter neuronal excitability remains unclear. With the aid of patch clamp technology, we found that BRV concentration dependently inhibited the depolarization-induced M-type K+ current (IK(M) ), decreased the delayed-rectifier K+ current (IK(DR) ), and decreased the hyperpolarization-activated cation current in GH3 neurons. However, it had a concentration-dependent inhibition on voltage-gated Na+ current (INa ). Under an inside-out patch configuration, a bath application of BRV increased the open probability of large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels. Furthermore, in mHippoE-14 hippocampal neurons, the whole-cell INa was effectively depressed by BRV. In simulated modeling of hippocampal neurons, BRV was observed to reduce the firing of the action potentials (APs) concurrently with decreases in the AP amplitude. In animal models, BRV ameliorated acute seizures in both OD-1 and lithium-pilocarpine epilepsy models. However, LEV had effects in the latter only. Collectively, our study demonstrated BRV’s multiple ionic mechanism in electrically excitable cells and a potential concerted effect on neuronal excitability and hyperexcitability disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number369
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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