The precise mechanism(s) by which levetiracetam exerts its antiepileptic effect is unknown. A saturable and stereoselective neuronal binding site in rat brain tissue has been described for levetiracetam. Experimental data indicate that this binding site is the synaptic vesicle protein SV2A, thought to be involved in the regulation of vesicle exocytosis. Although the molecular significance of levetiracetam binding to SV2A is not understood, levetiracetam and related analogs showed a rank order of affinity for SV2A which correlated with the potency of their antiseizure activity in audiogenic seizure-prone mice. These findings suggest that the interaction of levetiracetam with the SV2A protein may contribute to the antiepileptic mechanism of action of the drug.
Effects on QTc Interval
The effect of levetiracetam on QTc prolongation was evaluated in a randomized, double-blind, positive-controlled (moxifloxacin 400 mg) and placebo-controlled crossover study of levetiracetam (1000 mg or 5000 mg) in 52 healthy subjects. The upper bound of the 90% confidence interval for the largest placebo-adjusted, baseline-corrected QTc was below 10 milliseconds. Therefore, there was no evidence of significant QTc prolongation in this study.
The pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam are similar when used as monotherapy or as adjunctive therapy for the treatment of partial-onset seizures.
Absorption and Distribution
Absorption of levetiracetam is rapid, with peak plasma concentrations occurring in about an hour following oral administration in fasted subjects. The oral bioavailability of levetiracetam tablets is 100% and the tablets and oral solution are bioequivalent in rate and extent of absorption. Food does not affect the extent of absorption of levetiracetam but it decreases Cmax by 20% and delays Tmax by 1.5 hours. The pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam are linear over the dose range of 500 to 5000 mg. Steady state is achieved after 2 days of multiple twice-daily dosing. Levetiracetam and its major metabolite are less than 10% bound to plasma proteins; clinically significant interactions with other drugs through competition for protein binding sites are therefore unlikely.
Levetiracetam is not extensively metabolized in humans. The major metabolic pathway is the enzymatic hydrolysis of the acetamide group, which produces the carboxylic acid metabolite, ucb L057 (24% of dose) and is not dependent on any liver cytochrome P450 isoenzymes. The major metabolite is inactive in animal seizure models. Two minor metabolites were identified as the product of hydroxylation of the 2-oxo-pyrrolidine ring (2% of dose) and opening of the 2-oxo-pyrrolidine ring in position 5 (1% of dose). There is no enantiomeric interconversion of levetiracetam or its major metabolite.
Levetiracetam plasma half-life in adults is 7 ± 1 hour and is unaffected by either dose or repeated administration. Levetiracetam is eliminated from the systemic circulation by renal excretion as unchanged drug which represents 66% of administered dose. The total body clearance is 0.96 mL/min/kg and the renal clearance is 0.6 mL/min/kg. The mechanism of excretion is glomerular filtration with subsequent partial tubular reabsorption. The metabolite ucb L057 is excreted by glomerular filtration and active tubular secretion with a renal clearance of 4 mL/min/kg. Levetiracetam elimination is correlated to creatinine clearance. Levetiracetam clearance is reduced in patients with renal impairment [see Use in Specific Populations (8.6) and Dosage and Administration (2.5)].
Pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam were evaluated in 16 elderly subjects (age 61 to 88 years) with creatinine clearance ranging from 30 to 74 mL/min. Following oral administration of twice-daily dosing for 10 days, total body clearance decreased by 38% and the half-life was 2.5 hours longer in the elderly compared to healthy adults. This is most likely due to the decrease in renal function in these subjects.
Pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam were evaluated in 24 pediatric patients (age 6 to 12 years) after single dose (20 mg/kg). The body weight adjusted apparent clearance of levetiracetam was approximately 40% higher than in adults.
A repeat dose pharmacokinetic study was conducted in pediatric patients (age 4 to 12 years) at doses of 20 mg/kg/day, 40 mg/kg/day, and 60 mg/kg/day. The evaluation of the pharmacokinetic profile of levetiracetam and its metabolite (ucb L057) in 14 pediatric patients demonstrated rapid absorption of levetiracetam at all doses with a Tmax of about 1 hour and a t1/2 of 5 hours across the three dosing levels. The pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam in children was linear between 20 to 60 mg/kg/day. The potential interaction of levetiracetam with other AEDs was also evaluated in these patients. Levetiracetam had no significant effect on the plasma concentrations of carbamazepine, valproic acid, topiramate or lamotrigine. However, there was about a 22% increase of apparent clearance of levetiracetam when it was co-administered with an enzyme-inducing AED (e.g., carbamazepine).
Following single dose administration (20 mg/kg) of a 10% oral solution to children with epilepsy (1 month to < 4 years), levetiracetam was rapidly absorbed and peak plasma concentrations were observed approximately 1 hour after dosing. The pharmacokinetic results indicated that half-life was shorter (5.3 h) than for adults (7.2 h) and apparent clearance was faster (1.5 mL/min/kg) than for adults (0.96 mL/min/kg).
Population pharmacokinetic analysis showed that body weight was significantly correlated to the clearance of levetiracetam in pediatric patients; clearance increased with an increase in body weight.
Levetiracetam levels may decrease during pregnancy [see Warnings and Precautions (5.10) and Use in Specific Populations (8.1)].
Levetiracetam Cmax and AUC were 20% higher in women (N=11) compared to men (N=12). However, clearances adjusted for body weight were comparable.
Formal pharmacokinetic studies of the effects of race have not been conducted. Cross-study comparisons involving Caucasians (N=12) and Asians (N=12), however, show that pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam were comparable between the two races. Because levetiracetam is primarily renally excreted and there are no important racial differences in creatinine clearance, pharmacokinetic differences due to race are not expected.
The disposition of levetiracetam was studied in adult subjects with varying degrees of renal function. Total body clearance of levetiracetam is reduced in patients with impaired renal function by 40% in the mild group (CLcr = 50 to 80 mL/min), 50% in the moderate group (CLcr = 30 to 50 mL/min) and 60% in the severe renal impairment group (CLcr <30 mL/min). Clearance of levetiracetam is correlated with creatinine clearance.
In anuric (end stage renal disease) patients, the total body clearance decreased 70% compared to normal subjects (CLcr >80 mL/min). Approximately 50% of the pool of levetiracetam in the body is removed during a standard 4-hour hemodialysis procedure [see Dosage and Administration (2.5)].
In subjects with mild (Child-Pugh A) to moderate (Child-Pugh B) hepatic impairment, the pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam were unchanged. In patients with severe hepatic impairment (Child-Pugh C), total body clearance was 50% that of normal subjects, but decreased renal clearance accounted for most of the decrease. No dose adjustment is needed for patients with hepatic impairment.
In vitro data on metabolic interactions indicate that levetiracetam is unlikely to produce, or be subject to, pharmacokinetic interactions. Levetiracetam and its major metabolite, at concentrations well above Cmax levels achieved within the therapeutic dose range, are neither inhibitors of, nor high affinity substrates for, human liver cytochrome P450 isoforms, epoxide hydrolase or UDP-glucuronidation enzymes. In addition, levetiracetam does not affect the in vitro glucuronidation of valproic acid.
Potential pharmacokinetic interactions of or with levetiracetam were assessed in clinical pharmacokinetic studies (phenytoin, valproate, warfarin, digoxin, oral contraceptive, probenecid) and through pharmacokinetic screening in the placebo-controlled clinical studies in epilepsy patients.
Levetiracetam (3000 mg daily) had no effect on the pharmacokinetic disposition of phenytoin in patients with refractory epilepsy. Pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam were also not affected by phenytoin.
Levetiracetam (1500 mg twice daily) did not alter the pharmacokinetics of valproate in healthy volunteers. Valproate 500 mg twice daily did not modify the rate or extent of levetiracetam absorption or its plasma clearance or urinary excretion. There also was no effect on exposure to and the excretion of the primary metabolite, ucb L057.
Other Antiepileptic Drugs
Potential drug interactions between levetiracetam and other AEDs (carbamazepine, gabapentin, lamotrigine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone and valproate) were also assessed by evaluating the serum concentrations of levetiracetam and these AEDs during placebo-controlled clinical studies. These data indicate that levetiracetam does not influence the plasma concentration of other AEDs and that these AEDs do not influence the pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam.
Effect of AEDs in Pediatric Patients
There was about a 22% increase of apparent total body clearance of levetiracetam when it was co-administered with enzyme-inducing AEDs. Dose adjustment is not recommended. Levetiracetam had no effect on plasma concentrations of carbamazepine, valproate, topiramate, or lamotrigine.
Levetiracetam (500 mg twice daily) did not influence the pharmacokinetics of an oral contraceptive containing 0.03 mg ethinyl estradiol and 0.15 mg levonorgestrel, or of the luteinizing hormone and progesterone levels, indicating that impairment of contraceptive efficacy is unlikely. Coadministration of this oral contraceptive did not influence the pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam.
Levetiracetam (1000 mg twice daily) did not influence the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics (ECG) of digoxin given as a 0.25 mg dose every day. Coadministration of digoxin did not influence the pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam.
Levetiracetam (1000 mg twice daily) did not influence the pharmacokinetics of R and S warfarin. Prothrombin time was not affected by levetiracetam. Coadministration of warfarin did not affect the pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam.
Probenecid, a renal tubular secretion blocking agent, administered at a dose of 500 mg four times a day, did not change the pharmacokinetics of levetiracetam 1000 mg twice daily. Css max of the metabolite, ucb L057, was approximately doubled in the presence of probenecid while the fraction of drug excreted unchanged in the urine remained the same. Renal clearance of ucb L057 in the presence of probenecid decreased 60%, probably related to competitive inhibition of tubular secretion of ucb L057. The effect of levetiracetam on probenecid was not studied.
Rats were dosed with levetiracetam in the diet for 104 weeks at doses of 50, 300, and 1800 mg/kg/day. Plasma exposure (AUC) at the highest dose was approximately 6 times that in humans at the maximum recommended daily human dose (MRHD) of 3000 mg. There was no evidence of carcinogenicity. In mice, oral administration of levetiracetam for 80 weeks (doses up to 960 mg/kg/day) or 2 years (doses up to 4000 mg/kg/day, lowered to 3000 mg/kg/day after 45 weeks due to intolerability) was not associated with an increase in tumors. The highest dose tested in mice for 2 years (3000 mg/kg/day) is approximately 5 times the MRHD on a body surface area (mg/m2)basis.
Levetiracetam was negative in in vitro (Ames, chromosomal aberration in mammalian cells) and in vivo (mouse micronucleus) assays. The major human metabolite of levetiracetam (ucb L057) was negative in in vitro (Ames, mouse lymphoma) assays.
Impairment of Fertility
No adverse effects on male or female fertility or reproductive performance were observed in rats at oral doses up to 1800 mg/kg/day, which were associated with plasma exposures (AUC) up to approximately 6 times that in humans at the MRHD.
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