Levetiracetam shows promise for the treatment of feline audiogenic reflex seizures

January 05, 2016

A group of UK-based investigators from Davies Veterinary Group and the UCL School of Pharmacy, who recently engaged the veterinary world with an article defining the previously undocumented syndrome of feline audiogenic reflex seizures (FARS), have published follow-up findings about the treatment of the condition. Their paper, 'Levetiracetam in the management of feline audiogenic reflex seizures: a randomised, controlled, open label study', appears in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery*.

FARS is a problem of older cats, which typically exhibit myoclonic seizures (brief, shock-like jerks of a muscle or a group of muscles) in response to certain high-pitched sounds. Both non-pedigree and pedigree cats (in particular, Birmans) may be affected. A range of sound stimuli has been reported, including the crinkling of tin foil and a metal spoon dropping into a ceramic feeding bowl, through to firewood spitting and even texting on a phone. It was this bizarre collection of triggers that captured the imagination of media around the world, which dubbed the condition 'Tom and Jerry syndrome', and spread the story far and wide.

While avoiding the triggering sounds can reduce the incidence of seizures, this is not always practical and so this latest research potentially spells good news for owners of affected cats.

The study compared the efficacy of two antiepileptic drugs, levetiracetam (a relatively novel medication that has proven effective in studies of people with generalised epilepsies that experience myoclonic seizures) and the much older first generation drug phenobarbital, in 57 cats diagnosed with FARS. Cats were treated with one or other drug over a 12 week period; and owners were asked to record the date, number and type of seizures, any signs of illness, side effects and changes in activity or attitude, as well as whether they thought their cat's quality of life had improved, remained the same or deteriorated since starting the medication.

All cats receiving levetiracetam showed a reduction in the number of days that they experienced myoclonic seizures by at least half. In comparison, only 3% of cats showed the same reduction when treated with phenobarbital. The majority of reported side effects, such as lethargy and inappetence, were mild to moderate in both groups and these resolved after about 2 weeks in the cats treated with levetiracetam; in the phenobarbital group, however, side effects were relatively persistent. Owners of cats treated with phenobarbital perceived no benefit from using the medication; in contrast, all of the owners of cats treated with levetiracetam commented that their cat appeared brighter and more responsive after the first couple of weeks of treatment. Moreover, five cats treated with phenobarbital were switched to levetiracetam after the study, as their owners desired improved seizure control.

Having established that levetiracetam is an effective and well-tolerated treatment for cats with hallmark myoclonic seizures, the next step is to identify whether levetiracetam will also prevent so-called generalised tonic-clonic seizures. This is another seizure type seen in cats with FARS, and is what most people think of as a 'seizure', with the cat losing consciousness and its body stiffening and jerking, often for several minutes.

Lead author on the paper, Mark Lowrie, says, 'It is great to find a medication that works so well at controlling these seizures. Levetiracetam is not licensed in cats but it has proven to be a very safe drug. For affected cats to benefit, it is important that vets recognise the signs as this newly defined syndrome of FARS and that this medication is used in preference to other, less efficacious, anti-epileptic drugs.'
-end-
*Lowrie M, Thomson S, Bessant C, Sparkes A, Harvey RJ and Garosi L. Levetiracetam in the management of feline audiogenic reflex seizures: a randomised, controlled, open-label study. J Feline Med Surg. Epub ahead of print 21 December 2015. DOI: 10.1177/1098612X15622806.

Press enquiries:

Katie Baker, PR and Public Affairs Manager, SAGE Publications Ltd.
Tel: +44(0) 207 324 8719; Katie.Baker@sagepub.co.uk

The study can be read for free here.

Notes to editors:

About the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery


The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery is the official journal of the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), and is published by SAGE.

SAGE

Related Seizures Articles from Brightsurf:

Hallucinations in people with seizures may point to suicide risk
A study from scientists at Trinity College Dublin and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland shows that 8% of individuals with a history of seizures report hallucinations, including experiences of hearing or seeing things that are not based in reality.

Epilepsy: Seizures not forecastable as expected
Epileptic seizures can probably not be predicted by changes in brain wave patterns that were previously assumed to be characteristic precursors.

Predicting epileptic seizures might be more difficult than previously thought
By studying the brain dynamics of 28 subjects with epilepsy, scientists demonstrated there is no evidence for a previously suspected warning sign for seizures known as 'critical slowing down,' which refers to characteristic changes in the behavior of a complex system that approaches a theoretical tipping point; when this point is exceeded, there can be impactful and devastating changes.

Gene protective against fruit fly heat-induced seizures may explain some human seizures
Researchers identified a gene in fruit flies that helps prevent the hyperexcitability of specific neurons that trigger seizures.

Rethinking seizures associated with cardiac disease
Research from Washington University in St. Louis finds that mutations of a gene implicated in long QT syndrome in humans may trigger seizures because of their direct effects on certain classes of neurons in the brain -- independent from what the genetic mutations do to heart function.

UTSA reduces seizures by removing newborn neurons
Epileptic seizures happen in one of every 10 people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Reducing seizures by removing newborn neurons
Removing new neurons born after a brain injury reduces seizures in mice, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Inducing seizures to stop seizures
Surgery is the only way to stop seizures in 30 per cent of patients with focal drug-resistant epilepsy.

New research could help predict seizures before they happen
A new study has found a pattern of molecules that appear in the blood before a seizure happens.

New drug could help treat neonatal seizures
A new drug that inhibits neonatal seizures in rodent models could open up new avenues for the treatment of epilepsy in human newborns.

Read More: Seizures News and Seizures Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.