Lamotrigine is a relatively new anticonvulsant. Therapeutic plasma concentrations generally range from 1 to 4 mg/L, although several studies have shown that good control of epilepsy has been achieved with concentrations reaching 10 mg/L generally, with little toxicity. In overdose, however, the drug has been linked to ECG changes that may suggest a possible arrythmogenic effect and hence cardiac toxicity. Lamotrigine has also been shown to cause encephalopathy and thus neurotoxicity.
There is no information concerning postmortem lamotrigine concentrations and their interpretation. We describe lamotrigine concentrations in postmortem specimens including blood, liver, bile, vitreous humour, and urine from eight cases. A high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method is described with extraction procedures for the various tissues.
Two possible groups were identified. The first being the “broader therapeutic” group with blood concentrations ranging from 0.9 to 7.2 mg/L and corresponding liver concentrations ranging from 16 to 36 mg/kg. The second being a “supratherapeutic” group with blood concentrations ranging from 20 to 39 mg/L and corresponding liver concentrations ranging from 53 to 350 mg/kg. Although none of the eight cases described were attributed to overdose by lamotrigine alone, the cause of death for one of the three cases in the “supratherapeutic” group was given as mixed drug toxicity. Cause of death for the remaining two cases in this group was reported as epilepsy. However, both these cases showed elevated concentrations of lamotrigine and both were co-medicated with valproic acid. Such co-administration has been shown in the literature to lead to elevated lamotrigine concentrations and a reduction in lamotrigine dose has been recommended. With such data, we highlight the importance of monitoring lamotrigine concentrations in cases co-medicated, particularly with valproic acid.