Epileptic women do not withdraw antiepileptic drug (AED) therapy during pregnancy, therefore, exposure to AED during preimplantation stages might result in considerable embryonic concentrations endangering development. Neither clinical nor experimental research has addressed this important issue adequately. Vigabatrin (VGB), a second generation AED, is both effective and well tolerated as an add-on therapy in epilepsy with partial seizures. However, there is little data on the possible reproductive toxicity of this widely used drug. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effects of VGB on pregnancy and pregnancy outcome in an experimental model. VGB was administered in single doses of 450 mg/kg intraperitoneally (IP) to groups of mice on one of gestation days (GD) 1, 3, or 5. The treated animals consumed moderately reduced amounts of food and water on the day of treatment, so the controls were saline-injected and food and water-restricted to match the amounts consumed by the experimental animals. All animals were killed on GD 18. VGB treatment did not interfere with implantation, nor did it cause significant embryo resorption. However, it caused significant reduction in fetal bodyweight and increased frequency of growth restricted fetuses which weighed two standard deviations (SD) less than the mean of the controls. The VGB group fetuses also had retarded development of the skeletal system in terms of delay in maturity of the suproccipital bone development, cervical and coccygeal vertebral hypoplasia, and poor ossification of the bones of the fore and hind paws. Another major finding was the increased incidence of minor malformations, such as the presence of cervical ribs and sternal anomalies. The results of this study show that VGB administered at preimplantation stages of development causes intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and augments minor malformation rates in mice. Future studies must address the mechanisms of VGB-induced IUGR and minor malformations.
- Fetal growth restriction
- Minor malformations
- Preimplantation embryo development
- Skeletal variations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental Biology