Effect of pretreatment with anticonvulsants on theophylline-induced seizures in the rat

Amnon Hoffman*, Evelyne Pinto, Dalia Gilhar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Seizures, often with fatal outcome, are a manifestation of pronounced theophylline toxicity. Prodromal symptoms are not always apparent, and the seizures are reported to be, in certain cases, refractory to treatment with anticonvulsant drugs. The purpose of this investigation was to examine, by an established animal model, which of the commonly used anticonvulsants can reduce the central nervous system sensitivity to theophylline neurotoxicity and what should be the preferred treatment in cases in which theophylline toxicity is anticipated. The anticonvulsant agents in doses that are found to be effective in other types of experimentally induced seizures in rats, clonazepam 5 mg/ kg, diazepam 5 mg/kg, phenytoin 8 mg/kg, phenobarbital 100 mg/kg, valproic acid 150 mg/kg, and magnesium sulphate 300 mg/kg, or the vehicle (controls) were administered intravenously to Lewis female rats. Thirty minutes later, theophylline was infused at a constant rate of 1.3 mg/min until onset of maximal seizures. Theophylline concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid, brain, and serum were assayed by a high-performance liquid chromatography method. It was found that pretreatment with either clonazepam, diazepam, phenobarbital, or valproic acid increased the central nervous system thresholds to the theophylline-induced seizures, whereas phenytoin and magnesium sulphate did not attenuate the sensitivity of the brain to the stimulatory action of this widely used bronchodilator. Therefore, whenever theophylline toxicity is suspected, treatment with either diazepam, clonazepam, phenobarbital, or valproic acid can reduce the hazard associated with theophylline-induced seizures.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)198-202
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Critical Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1993


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