Effects of Marketed Antiepileptic Drugs and Placebo in the Human Photosensitivity Screening Protocol

Jacqueline A. French, Gregory L. Krauss, Dorothee Kasteleijn, Bree D. DiVentura, Emilia Bagiella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A study of epilepsy patients with a reproducible range of photoparoxysmal responses (PPR) (epileptiform discharges evoked by flashing lights) has been used as a "proof-of-concept" trial to determine if novel potential antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) should proceed in development. The standard design for this trial requires a 3-day inpatient stay and is single-blind. We evaluated two marketed and effective AEDs-one narrow-spectrum [carbamazepine (CBZ)], and one broad-spectrum [levetiracetam (LEV)]-using a novel double-blinded, cross-over outpatient version of the trial to detect acute drug effects of the two marketed AEDs on photosensitivity. We tested 6 patients with a known stable photosensitivity response, using single oral doses of CBZ 400 mg and LEV 1000 mg, compared to 2 test days with single placebo doses. Patients who received LEV had the lowest mean PPR (compared with placebo and CBZ). The mixed effect model showed a significant effect of LEV in all eye closure conditions (p < 0.001). There was no evidence of a significant change in PPR after CBZ or placebo treatment. In conclusion, LEV 1000 mg, but not CBZ 400 mg, was effective in suppressing photosensitivity within a 6-h period compared with placebo showing the ability of our novel photosensitivity trial design to demonstrate effects of broad-spectrum AEDs. We cannot confirm the ability of the photosensitivity trial to detect the narrow-spectrum AED CBZ in our design. The novel outpatient study design is feasible and is expected to reduce costs compared with previous methodology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-418
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Photosensitive epilepsy
  • antiepileptic drug
  • carbamazepine
  • clinical trial
  • levetiracetam

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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