Effects of anticonvulsant lactams on in vitro seizures in the hippocampal slice preparation

Matthew W. Hill, Maria Antonette M. De La Cruz, Douglas F. Covey, Steven M. Rothman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Some 3,3-disubstituted 2-pyrrolidinones and 2-piperidinones (five- and six-membered ring lactams, respectively) possess potent in vivo anticonvulsant activity. In vitro these lactams potentiate GABA(A) receptor-mediated chloride currents, which is thought to be the mechanism by which they exert their therapeutic effects. However, the apparent affinity for these GABA(A) interactions is low: EC50s range from hundreds of micromolar to low millimolar values. In order to more completely characterize the activities of these compounds, it was necessary to know the concentrations required to curtail epileptiform activity in an intact neural network, and the mechanism by which this occurs. To address these questions, we used two methods of inducing ictal activity in hippocampal-entorhinal cortical slices: 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) and low Mg2+. We found that 3,3-diethyl-2-pyrrolidinone (diethyl-lactam) prevents seizure-like discharges with IC50s of 1.1 and 2.1 mM in the two models, respectively. These values are nearly identical to the EC50 value obtained in whole-cell studies of diethyl-lactam's GABA(A) receptor modulation. The addition of the GABA(A) antagonist picrotoxin to the low Mg2+ ACSF produced seizures which persisted during diethyl-lactam application. Neither 3-benzyl-3-ethyl-2-piperidinone (3-BEP) nor α-ethyl-α-methyl-γ-thiobutyrolactone (α-EMTBL), two compounds which are similar to diethyl-lactam, but demonstrate picrotoxin-insensitive inhibition of voltage-dependent currents, diminished low Mg2+/picrotoxin seizure activity. Our results support the hypothesis that diethyl-lactam and related compounds exert their anticonvulsant activity primarily, if not exclusively, by modulating the GABA(A) receptor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalEpilepsy Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 5 1999


  • 4-Aminopyridine
  • Epilepsy
  • GABA(A) receptor
  • Hippocampus
  • Picrotoxin
  • γ-Butyrolactone


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