Chronic levetiracetam decreases hippocampal and testicular aromatase expression in normal but not kainic acid-induced experimental model of acute seizures in rats
Reproductive disorders are more common in men with epilepsy taking anticonvulsant medications. Antiseizure/anticonvulsant drugs and seizures in medial temporal lobe structures may cause gonadal dysfunction, including infertility, decreased libido, and potency. Levels of circulating bioavailable testosterone are affected by the aromatase enzyme, which converts testosterone into estrogen and may be affected by seizure medications. However, the relationship of anticonvulsant drugs with central aromatase levels is not clear. This study investigated the possible effects of the highly efficient, new-generation antiseizure/anticonvulsant drug levetiracetam on central and gonadal aromatase expression and gonadal tissue functionality at 27 and 54 mg/kg/day doses. Epileptogenesis was generated in male Wistar rats by an intraperitoneal injection of the excitotoxic agent kainic acid. Aromatase levels were 1.5 times higher in the brain cortex of the kainic acid groups after 4 weeks and the hippocampus after 4 and 8 weeks compared with the controls. Decreased basal aromatase levels were observed after 1 week of levetiracetam treatment (27 mg/kg/day). Administration of 27 mg/kg/day levetiracetam did not alter vas deferens contractions at 1, 4, or 8 weeks compared with the controls. No histological changes were observed in the vas deferens, epididymis, or testis after 8 weeks of levetiracetam administration at both doses. Administration of 27 and 54 mg/kg/day levetiracetam downregulated testis aromatase expression at 8 weeks compared with the controls. These results suggest that levetiracetam decreases aromatase levels in the testis and increases the seizure threshold by a possible decrease in systemic estradiol levels.