The precise mechanism(s) by which zonisamide exerts its antiseizure effect is unknown. Zonisamide demonstrated anticonvulsant activity in several experimental models. In animals, zonisamide was effective against tonic extension seizures induced by maximal electroshock but ineffective against clonic seizures induced by subcutaneous pentylenetetrazol. Zonisamide raised the threshold for generalized seizures in the kindled rat model and reduced the duration of cortical focal seizures induced by electrical stimulation of the visual cortex in cats. Furthermore, zonisamide suppressed both interictal spikes and the secondarily generalized seizures produced by cortical application of tungstic acid gel in rats or by cortical freezing in cats. The relevance of these models to human epilepsy is unknown.
Zonisamide may produce these effects through action at sodium and calcium channels. In vitro pharmacological studies suggest that zonisamide blocks sodium channels and reduces voltagedependent, transient inward currents (T-type Ca2+ currents), consequently stabilizing neuronal membranes and suppressing neuronal hypersynchronization. In vitro binding studies have demonstrated that zonisamide binds to the GABA/benzodiazepine receptor ionophore complex in an allosteric fashion which does not produce changes in chloride flux. Other in vitro studies have demonstrated that zonisamide (10–30 μg/mL) suppresses synaptically-driven electrical activity without affecting postsynaptic GABA or glutamate responses (cultured mouse spinal cord neurons) or neuronal or glial uptake of [3H]-GABA (rat hippocampal slices). Thus, zonisamide does not appear to potentiate the synaptic activity of GABA. In vivo microdialysis studies demonstrated that zonisamide facilitates both dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmission.
Zonisamide is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. The contribution of this pharmacological action to the therapeutic effects of zonisamide is unknown. However, as a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, zonisamide may cause metabolic acidosis
Dosage & Administration
Zonisamide is recommended as adjunctive therapy for the treatment of partial seizures in adults. Safety and efficacy in pediatric patients below the age of 16 have not been established. Zonisamide should be administered once or twice daily, using 25 mg or 100 mg capsules. Zonisamide is given orally and can be taken with or without food. Capsules should be swallowed whole.
Adults Over Age 16: The prescriber should be aware that, because of the long half-life of zonisamide, up to two weeks may be required to achieve steady state levels upon reaching a stable dose or following dosage adjustment. Although the regimen described below is one that has been shown to be tolerated, the prescriber may wish to prolong the duration of treatment at the lower doses in order to fully assess the effects of zonisamide at steady state, noting that many of the side effects of zonisamide are more frequent at doses of 300 mg per day and above. Although there is some evidence of greater response at doses above 100-200 mg/day, the increase appears small and formal dose-response studies have not been conducted.
The initial dose of Zonisamide should be 100 mg daily. After two weeks, the dose may be increased to 200 mg/day for at least two weeks. It can be increased to 300 mg/day and 400 mg/day, with the dose stable for at least two weeks to achieve steady state at each level. Evidence from controlled trials suggests that Zonisamide doses of 100-600 mg/day are effective, but there is no suggestion of increasing response above 400 mg/day. There is little experience with doses greater than 600 mg/day.
The most common adverse reactions with Zonisamide (an incidence at least 4% greater than placebo) in controlled clinical trials and shown in descending order of frequency were somnolence, anorexia, dizziness, ataxia, agitation/irritability, and difficulty with memory and/or concentration.
In controlled clinical trials, 12% of patients receiving Zonisamide as adjunctive therapy discontinued due to an adverse reaction compared to 6% receiving placebo. Approximately 21% of the 1,336 patients with epilepsy who received Zonisamide in clinical studies discontinued treatment because of an adverse reaction. The most common adverse reactions leading to discontinuation were somnolence, fatigue and/or ataxia (6%), anorexia (3%), difficulty concentrating (2%), difficulty with memory, mental slowing, nausea/vomiting (2%), and weight loss (1%). Many of these adverse reactions were doserelated
Pregnancy & Lactation
Zonisamide may cause serious adverse fetal effects, based on clinical and nonclinical data. Zonisamide was teratogenic in multiple animal species.
Zonisamide treatment causes metabolic acidosis in humans. The effect of zonisamide-induced metabolic acidosis has not been studied in pregnancy; however, metabolic acidosis in pregnancy (due to other causes) may be associated with decreased fetal growth, decreased fetal oxygenation, and fetal death, and may affect the fetus’s ability to tolerate labor. Pregnant patients should be monitored for metabolic acidosis and treated as in the non-pregnant state.
Newborns of mothers treated with zonisamide should be monitored for metabolic acidosis because of transfer of zonisamide to the fetus and possible occurrence of transient metabolic acidosis following birth. Transient metabolic acidosis has been reported in neonates born to mothers treated during pregnancy with a different carbonic anhydrase inhibitor.
Human Experience: Experience with Zonisamide daily doses over 800 mg/day is limited. During Zonisamide clinical development, three patients ingested unknown amounts of Zonisamide as suicide attempts, and all three were hospitalized with CNS symptoms. One patient became comatose and developed bradycardia, hypotension, and respiratory depression; the zonisamide plasma level was 100.1 μg/mL measured 31 hours post-ingestion. Zonisamide plasma levels fell with a half-life of 57 hours, and the patient became alert five days later.
Management: No specific antidotes for Zonisamide overdosage are available. Following a suspected recent overdose, emesis should be induced or gastriclavage performed with the usual precautions to protect the airway. General supportive care is indicated, including frequent monitoring of vital signs and close observation.
Zonisamide has a long half-life. Due to the low protein binding of zonisamide (40%), renal dialysis may be effective. The effectiveness of renal dialysis as a treatment of overdose has not been formally studied. A poison control center should be contacted for information on the management of Zonisamide overdosage.
Use in Special Population
Patients With Renal Or Hepatic Disease: Because zonisamide is metabolized in the liver and excreted by the kidneys, patients with renal or hepatic disease should be treated with caution, and might require slower titration and more frequent monitoring
Pediatric Use: The safety and effectiveness of Zonisamide in children under age 16 have not been established. Cases of oligohidrosis and hyperpyrexia have been reported. Zonisamide commonly causes metabolic acidosis in pediatric patients. Chronic untreated metabolic acidosis in pediatric patients may cause nephrolithiasis and/or nephrocalcinosis, osteoporosis and/or osteomalacia (potentially resulting in rickets), and may reduce growth rates. A reduction in growth rate may eventually decrease the maximal height achieved. The effect of zonisamide on growth and bonerelated sequelae has not been systematically investigated.
Geriatric Use: Single dose pharmacokinetic parameters are similar in elderly and young healthy volunteers. Clinical studies of zonisamide did not include sufficient numbers of subjects aged 65 and over to determine whether they respond differently from younger subjects. Other reported clinical experience has not identified differences in responses between the elderly and younger patients. In general, dose selection for an elderly patient should be cautious, usually starting at the low end of the dosing range, reflecting the greater frequency of decreased hepatic, renal, or cardiac function, and of concomitant disease or other drug therapy.