Guanfacine (an alpha-2A receptor agonist) is a commonly used drug with recognized efficacy in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study aimed to assess the effects of guanfacine on short-lasting (interictal) epileptiform discharges in cortical neurons. Moreover, we assessed the effects of guanfacine on voltage-gated sodium currents.
We conducted patch-clamp recordings in prefrontal cortex pyramidal neurons obtained from young rats. Interictal epileptiform events were evoked in cortical slices in a zero magnesium proepileptic extracellular solution with an elevated concentration of potassium ions.
Interictal epileptiform discharges were spontaneous depolarisations, which triggered action potentials. Guanfacine (10 and 100 µM) inhibited the frequency of epileptiform discharges. The effect of guanfacine on interictal events persisted in the presence of alpha-2 adrenergic receptor antagonist idazoxan. The tested drug inhibited neuronal excitability. Tonic NMDA currents were not influenced by guanfacine. Recordings from dispersed neurons showed that the tested drug (10 and 100 µM) inhibited persistent and fast inactivating voltage-gated sodium currents.
This study shows that guanfacine inhibits interictal discharges in cortical neurons independently of alpha-2A adrenergic receptors. This effect may be mediated by voltage-gated sodium currents. Inhibition of interictal activity by guanfacine may be of clinical importance because interictal events often occur in patients with ADHD and may contribute to symptoms of this disease.

© 2023. The Author(s).