The anticholinergic and antiglutamatergic drug caramiphen reduces seizure duration in soman-exposed rats: Synergism with the benzodiazepine diazepam

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Abstract

Therapy of seizure activity following exposure to the nerve agent soman (GD) includes treatment with the anticonvulsant diazepam (DZP), an allosteric modulator of γ-aminobutyric acid A (GABAA) receptors. However, seizure activity itself causes the endocytosis of GABAA receptors and diminishes the inhibitory effects of GABA, thereby reducing the efficacy of DZP. Treatment with an N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor antagonist prevents this reduction in GABAergic inhibition. We examined the efficacy of the NMDA receptor antagonist caramiphen edisylate (CED; 20 mg/kg, im) and DZP (10 mg/kg, sc), administered both separately and in combination, at 10, 20 or 30 min following seizure onset for attenuation of the deleterious effects associated with GD exposure (1.2 LD50; 132 μg/kg, sc) in rats. Outcomes evaluated were seizure duration, neuropathology, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity, body weight, and temperature. We also examined the use of the reversible AChE inhibitor physostigmine (PHY; 0.2 mg/kg, im) as a therapy for GD exposure. We found that the combination of CED and DZP yielded a synergistic effect, shortening seizure durations and reducing neuropathology compared to DZP alone, when treatment was delayed 20–30 min after seizure onset. PHY reduced the number of animals that developed seizures, protected a fraction of AChE from GD inhibition, and attenuated post-exposure body weight and temperature loss independent of CED and/or DZP treatment. We conclude that: 1) CED and DZP treatment offers considerable protection against the effects of GD and 2) PHY is a potential therapeutic option following GD exposure, albeit with a limited window of opportunity.

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