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Two New Medical Findings

Effects of antiepileptic drugs on lipids, homocysteine, and C-reactive protein

OBJECTIVE: The widely prescribed anticonvulsants phenytoin and carbamazepine are potent inducers of cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved in cholesterol synthesis. We sought to determine whether these drugs have an effect on cholesterol and other serological markers of vascular risk. METHODS: We recruited 34 epilepsy patients taking carbamazepine or phenytoin in monotherapy whose physicians had elected to change treatment to one of the noninducing anticonvulsants lamotrigine or levetiracetam. Fasting blood samples were obtained both before and 6 weeks after the switch to measure serum lipid fractions, lipoprotein(a), C-reactive protein, and homocysteine. A comparator group of 16 healthy subjects underwent the same serial studies. RESULTS: In the epilepsy patients, switch from either phenytoin or carbamazepine produced significant declines in total cholesterol (-24.8mg/dl), atherogenic (non-high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol (-19.9mg/dl), triglycerides (-47.1mg/dl) (all p<0.0001), and C-reactive protein (-31.4%; p = 0.027). Patients who stopped taking carbamazepine also had a 31.2% decline in lipoprotein(a) level (p = 0.0004), whereas those taken off phenytoin had a decrease in homocysteine level (-1.7mumol/L; p = 0.005). All of these changes were significant when compared with those seen in healthy subjects (p<0.05). Results were similar whether patients were switched to lamotrigine or levetiracetam. INTERPRETATION: Switching epilepsy patients from the enzyme-inducers carbamazepine or phenytoin to the noninducing drugs levetiracetam or lamotrigine produces rapid and clinically significant amelioration in several serological markers of vascular risk. These findings suggest that phenytoin and carbamazepine may substantially increase the risk for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease. Ann Neurol 2009.

Prednisone 10 days on/10 days off in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy;

Corticosteroids are effective in improving motor function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients within 6 months-2 years of treatment initiation, but there is as yet no consensus on which treatment scheme is the best. We retrospectively analyzed data of 35 DMD patients who were treated with prednisone 0.75 mg/kg per day intermittently 10 days on/10 days off. Prednisone was started during the ambulant phase at age 3.5-9.7 years (median 6.5 years). The median period of treatment was 27 months (range 3-123 months). The median age at which ambulation was lost was 10.8 years (mean 10.9 years; 95% confidence interval 10.0-11.8 years). Nine patients (26%) had excessive weight gain. Eight boys (21%) had a bone fracture, which was when four of these eight children lost the ability to walk. Treatment was stopped in two obese patients, two hyperactive boys and one patient following a fracture. Our data suggest that prednisone 10 on/10 off has relatively few side effects and extends the ambulant phase by 1 year compared to historical controls.


April 1, 2009 - Posted by | 1

1 Comment »

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

    Comment by matt | April 2, 2009 | Reply

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