Background: Approximately 50% of patients do not achieve seizure control with antiepileptic drug (AED) monotherapy, and polytherapy, with more than one AED, is often required. To date, no evidence-based criteria on how to combine AEDs exist. Objective: This narrative review aimed to provide critical findings of the available literature about the role of pharmacodynamic AEDs' interactions in patients whose epilepsies were treated with polytherapy. Methods: Electronic databases, Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online (MEDLINE) and Excerpta Medica dataBASE (EMBASE), were systematically searched to identify relevant studies on pharmacodynamic AEDs' interactions in patients with epilepsy. Results and conclusion: Most data on AED combinations are coming from animal models and preclinical studies. Combining AEDs with different mechanisms of actions seems to have greater effectiveness and lower risk of adverse event development. Conversely, the combination of AEDs may cause pharmacodynamic synergistic effects that may result in not only increased efficacy but also more adverse effects. Despite some AED associations that have been proven to be effective in specific epilepsy/seizure type (e.g., phenobarbital +/phenytoin for tonic seizures and ethosiximide + valproate for absences; lamotrigine + valproate for various epilepsy/seizure types), no clear and definitive evidence exists about AED combinations in humans. Examples of pharmacodynamic interactions that possibly explain the synergistic effects on efficacy or adverse effects include the combination between vigabatrin or pregabalin and sodium channel blockers (supra-additive antiseizure effect) and lacosamide combined with other sodium channel blockers (infra-additive antiseizure effect and neurotoxicity synergistic). The pharmacodynamic lamotrigine–valproate interaction is also supported by synergistic adverse events. Therefore, well-designed double-blind prospective studies recruiting a sufficient number of patients possibly with a crossover design and carefully ascertain the role of pharmacokinetic interactions and variations of AEDs' levels in the blood are needed.
Pharmacodynamic interactions of antiepileptic drugs: From bench to clinical practice / Verrotti, A.; Lattanzi, S.; Brigo, F.; Zaccara, G.. - In: EPILEPSY & BEHAVIOR. - ISSN 1525-5050. - 104:Pt A(2020), p. 106939. [10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.106939]