Gabapentin is structurally related to GABA. However, it does not bind to GABAA or GABAB receptors, and it does not appear to influence synthesis or uptake of GABA.
High affinity gabapentin binding sites have been located throughout the brain; these sites correspond to the presence of voltage-gated calcium channels specifically possessing the alpha-2-delta-1 subunit.
This channel appears to be located presynaptically, and may modulate the release of excitatory neurotransmitters which participate in epileptogenesis and nociception.
Although its exact mode of action is not known, gabapentin appears to have a unique effect on voltage-dependent calcium ion channels at the postsynaptic dorsal horns and may, therefore, interrupt the series of events that possibly leads to the experience of a neuropathic pain sensation.
Gabapentin is especially effective at relieving allodynia and hyperalgesia in animal models. It has been shown to be efficacious in numerous small clinical studies and case reports in a wide variety of pain syndromes. Gabapentin has been clearly demonstrated to be effective for the treatment of neuropathic pain in diabetic neuropathy and postherpetic neuralgia.
This evidence, combined with its favourable side-effect profile in various patient groups (including the elderly) and lack of drug interactions, makes it an attractive agent. Therefore, gabapentin should be considered an important drug in the management of neuropathic pain syndromes.
Variable, from proximal small bowel by L-amino transport system; saturable process; dose-dependent
Vd: 58 ± 6 L; CSF concentrations are ~20% of plasma concentrations
Proportional to renal function; urine (as unchanged drug)
Clearance: Apparent oral clearance is directly proportional to CrCl: Clearance in infants is highly variable; oral clearance (per kg) in children <5 years of age is higher than in children ≥5 years of age
Time to Peak
Immediate release: Infants 1 month to Children 12 years: 2 to 3 hours; Adults: 2 to 4 hours; Extended release: 8 hours
Infants 1 month to Children 12 years: 4.7 hours
Adults, normal: 5 to 7 hours; increased half-life with decreased renal function; anuric adult patients: 132 hours; adults during hemodialysis: 3.8 hours