Many β-lactam antibiotics, including cephalosporins, may cause neurotoxic and proconvulsant effects. The main molecular mechanism of such effects is considered to be γ-aminobutyric acid type a (GABAa) receptor blockade, leading to the suppression of GABAergic inhibition and subsequent overexcitation. We found that cefepime (CFP), a cephalosporin, has a pronounced antiepileptic effect in the pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced seizure model by decreasing the duration and severity of the seizure and animal mortality. This effect was specific to the PTZ model. In line with findings of previous studies, CFP exhibited a proconvulsant effect in other models, including the maximal electroshock model and 4-aminopyridine model of epileptiform activity, in vitro. To determine the antiepileptic mechanism of CFP in the PTZ model, we used whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. We demonstrated that CFP or PTZ decreased the amplitude of GABAa receptor-mediated postsynaptic currents. PTZ also decreased the current decay time constant and temporal summation of synaptic responses. In contrast, CFP slightly increased the decay time constant and did not affect summation. When applied together, CFP prevented alterations to the summation of responses by PTZ, strongly reducing the effects of PTZ on repetitive inhibitory synaptic transmission. The latter may explain the antiepileptic effect of CFP in the PTZ model.
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