Zonisamide: Chemistry, mechanism of action, and pharmacokinetics

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Zonisamide is a synthetic 1,2-benzisoxazole-3-methanesulfonamide with anticonvulsant properties. The sulfamoyl group on zonisamide was expected to suppress seizures in a manner similar to another sulfonamide analogue, acetazolamide, through inhibition of carbonic anhydrase. However, this does not appear to be the primary mechanism of action since zonisamide requires much higher doses than acetazolamide to achieve equivalent titration in vivo. Studies with cultured neurons indicate that zonisamide blocks repetitive firing of voltage-sensitive sodium channels and reduces voltage-sensitive T-type calcium currents without affecting L-type calcium currents. Its dual mechanism of action may explain its efficacy in patients resistant to other antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). Zonisamide has a pharmacokinetic profile favorable for clinical use. It is rapidly and completely absorbed and has a long half-life (63-69 h in healthy volunteers) which allows twice-daily, or even once-daily, dosing. Zonisamide is not highly bound to plasma proteins. Consequently, it does not affect protein binding of other highly protein-bound AEDs. Furthermore, zonisamide does not induce its own metabolism and does not induce liver enzymes. However, since zonisamide is metabolized by cytochrome P450, liver enzyme-inducing AEDs will increase zonisamide clearance, and dosage adjustments may be necessary when it is used in combination with certain AEDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S5-S9
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004


  • Chemistry
  • Epilepsy
  • Mechanism of action
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Zonisamide

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