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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Interaction between phenytoin and valproic acid: plasma protein binding and metabolic effects.

The effect of sodium valproate (400 mg three times daily) on the disposition kinetics of intravenous phenytoin (250 mg) was investigated in seven normal subjects. After valproate, the free (unbound) fraction of phenytoin in serum rose from 9.6 +/- 0.9% (SD) to 15.6 +/- 1.4% on average (p < 0.001). The effect was associated with an increase in systemic clearance and apparent volume of distribution of total drug. There was a strong positive correlation between percent increment in each of these parameters and percent increment in unbound drug in serum. Free phenytoin concentration in serum and phenytoin concentration in saliva increased during valproate administration. As a result, both the clearance and the apparent volume of distribution of free drug were reduced. There was an increase in the renal excretion of unchanged phenytoin during valproate administration, but the effect was too small to have an appreciable influence on the overall clearance of the drug. There were no consistent changes in the excretion of the major metabolite 5, p-hydroxyphenyl, 5-phenyl, hydantoin (pHPPH), in the urine. These results suggest that valproic acid may have two separate and opposing effects on phenytoin disposition: (1) displacing phenytoin from plasma protein binding sites, thereby enhancing the systemic clearance of total drug, and (2) inhibiting phenytoin metabolism, thereby increasing the concentration of free drug in the serum.[1]


  1. Interaction between phenytoin and valproic acid: plasma protein binding and metabolic effects. Perucca, E., Hebdige, S., Frigo, G.M., Gatti, G., Lecchini, S., Crema, A. Clin. Pharmacol. Ther. (1980) [Pubmed]
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