Case ReportNeuronal MDR-1 Gene Expression and Persistent Low Levels of Anticonvulsants in a Child with Refractory EpilepsyLazarowski, Alberto*†; Massaro, Mario†; Schteinschnaider, Angeles†; Intruvini, Silvia†; Sevlever, Gustavo†; Rabinowicz, Adrian†Author Information From the *Departamento de Bioquímica Clínica, Facultad de Farmacia y Bioquímica, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina; and †Instituto de Investigaciones Neurólogias “Dr Raul Carrea,” Fundación FLENI, Montañeses 2325 (1428), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Received for publication March 20, 2003; accepted July 30, 2003. Reprints: Dr. Alberto Lazarowski, Caseros 1944 #9B, (1152) Buenos Aires, Argentina (e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]). Therapeutic Drug Monitoring: February 2004 - Volume 26 - Issue 1 - p 44-46 Buy Abstract It is estimated that 20–25% of epileptic patients fail to achieve good control with antiepileptic drug (AED) treatment; thus, refractory epilepsy (RE) has been described in patients who have adequate therapeutic levels of AEDs without control of seizures. Multidrug resistance genes have been reported to be highly expressed in brain of patients with RE. Persistent low plasma levels of AEDs and high brain expression of the multidrug resistance product P-glycoprotein (P-gp) have been previously communicated in a case report of RE secondary to tuberous sclerosis. Here, the authors report a case of an 8-year-old boy diagnosed with partial RE with focal seizures who was admitted to hospital for a severe episode of subintrant crisis. The patient received polytherapy with carbamazepine (CBZ), phenytoin (PHT), and valproic acid (VA); however, habitual doses of these AEDs failed to control the patient's symptoms. AED blood levels were monitored for 25 consecutive days and showed low values in 8/25 (33%) for CBZ, 10/25 (40%) for PHT, and 25/25 (100%) for VA of samples studied. Because the patient developed focal status epilepticus, surgical treatment by callosotomy was done, resulting in a significant improvement in epileptic symptoms. The immunostaining of brain specimens showed significantly increased expression of P-gp not only in vascular endothelial cells and related astrocytes but also in neurons. Overexpression of P-gp in the brain does not explain the low blood levels of AEDs described in these cases. Different mechanisms such as drug–drug interactions and drug transporters can be involved in the results observed. The P-gp overexpression and/or its pharmacologic induction should be considered as a potential mechanism responsible for drug resistance to epilepsy treatment and highly suspected in patients with persistent subtherapeutic AEDs plasma levels. © 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.