Different mechanisms of action have been proposed to explain the effects of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) including modulation of voltage‐dependent sodium calcium and potassium channels, enhancement of γ‐aminobutyric acid (GABA)‐mediated neuronal inhibition, and reduction in glutamate‐mediated excitatory transmission. Recent advances in understanding the physiology of ion channels and genetics basis of epilepsies have given insight into various molecular targets for AEDs. Conventional AEDs predominantly target voltage‐ and ligand‐gated ion channels including the α subunits of voltage‐gated Na+ channels, T‐type, and α2‐δ subunits of the voltage‐gated Ca2+ channels, A‐ or M‐type voltage‐gated K+ channels, the γ‐aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptor channel complex, and ionotropic glutamatergic receptors. Molecular cloning of ion channel subunit proteins and studies in epilepsy models suggest additional targets including hyperpolarization‐activated cyclic nucleotide‐gated cation (HCN) channel subunits, responsible for hyperpolarization‐activated current (Ih), voltage‐gated chloride channels, and acid‐sensing ion channels. This chapter gives an update on voltage‐ and ligand‐gated ion channels, discussing their structures, functions, and relevance as potential targets for AEDs.
Part of the book: Epileptology