19 October 2015
Brivaracetam (BRV), a high-affinity synaptic vesicle protein 2A ligand, reported to be 10–30-fold more potent than levetiracetam (LEV), is highly effective in a wide range of experimental models of focal and generalized seizures. BRV and LEV similarly bind to synaptic vesicle protein 2A, while differentiating for other pharmacological effects; in fact, BRV does not inhibit high voltage Ca 2+ channels and AMPA receptors as LEV. Furthermore, BRV apparently exhibits inhibitory activity on neuronal voltage-gated sodium channels playing a role as a partial antagonist. BRV is currently waiting for approval both in the United States and the European Union as adjunctive therapy for patients with partial seizures. In patients with photosensitive epilepsy, BRV showed a dose-dependent effect in suppressing or attenuating the photoparoxysmal response. In well-controlled trials conducted to date, adjunctive BRV demonstrated efficacy and good tolerability in patients with focal epilepsy. BRV has a linear pharmacokinetic profile. BRV is extensively metabolized and excreted by urine (only 8%–11% unchanged). The metabolites of BRV are inactive, and hydrolysis of the acetamide group is the mainly involved metabolic pathway; hepatic impairment probably requires dose adjustment. BRV does not seem to influence other antiepileptic drug plasma levels. Six clinical trials have so far been completed indicating that BRV is effective in controlling seizures when used at doses between 50 and 200 mg/d. The drug is generally well-tolerated with only mild-to-moderate side effects; this is confirmed by the low discontinuation rate observed in these clinical studies. The most common side effects are related to central nervous system and include fatigue, dizziness, and somnolence; these apparently disappear during treatment. In this review, we analyzed BRV, focusing on the current evidences from experimental animal models to clinical studies with particular interest on potential use in clinical practice. Finally, pharmacological properties of BRV are summarized with a description of its pharmacokinetics, safety, and potential/known drug–drug interactions.