Limbic seizures induce P-glycoprotein in rodent brain: Functional implications for pharmacoresistance

Massimo Rizzi, Silvio Caccia, Giovanna Guiso, Cristina Richichi, Jan A. Gorter, Eleonora Aronica, Marisa Aliprandi, Renzo Bagnati, Roberto Fanelli, Maurizio D'Incalci, Rosario Samanin, Annamaria Vezzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The causes and mechanisms underlying multidrug resistance (MDR) in epilepsy are still elusive and may depend on inadequate drug concentration in crucial brain areas. We studied whether limbic seizures or anticonvulsant drug treatments in rodents enhance the brain expression of the MDR gene (mdr) encoding a permeability glycoprotein (P-gp) involved in MDR to various cancer chemotherapeutic agents. We also investigated whether changes in P-gp levels affect anticonvulsant drug concentrations in the brain. Mdr mRNA measured by RT-PCR increased by 85% on average in the mouse hippocampus 3-24 hr after kainic acid-induced limbic seizures, returning to control levels by 72 hr. Treatment with therapeutic doses of phenytoin or carbamazepine for 7 d did not change mdr mRNA expression in the mouse hippocampus 1-72 hr after the last drug administration. Six hours after seizures, the brain/plasma ratio of phenytoin was reduced by 30% and its extracellular concentration estimated by microdialysis was increased by twofold compared with control mice. Knock-out mice (mdr1a/b -/-) lacking P-g protein showed a 46% increase in phenytoin concentrations in the hippocampus 1 and 4 hr after injection compared with wild-type mice. A significant 23% increase was found in the cerebellum at 1 hr and in the cortex at 4 hr. Carbamazepine concentrations were measurable in the hippocampus at 3 hr in mdr1a/b -/- mice, whereas they were undetectable at the same time interval in wild-type mice. In rats having spontaneous seizures 3 months after electrically induced status epilepticus, mdr1 mRNA levels were enhanced by 1.8-fold and fivefold on average in the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, respectively. Thus, changes in P-gp mRNA levels occur in limbic areas after both acute and chronic epileptic activity. P-gp alterations significantly affect antiepileptic drugs concentrations in the brain, suggesting that seizure-induced mdr mRNA expression contributes to MDR in epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5833-5839
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 15 2002


  • Anticonvulsant drugs
  • Epilepsy
  • Mdr
  • P-glycoprotein
  • Rat
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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