March 18, 2022

A Pharmacogenomic Assessment of Psychiatric Adverse Drug Reactions to Levetiracetam (Keppra)

Abstract found in Wiley Online Library

Objective: Levetiracetam (LEV; brand name Keppra) is an effective anti-seizure medicine, but 10-20% of people treated with LEV report psychiatric side-effects and up to 1% may have psychotic episodes. Pharmacogenomic predictors of these adverse drug reactions (ADRs) have yet to be identified. We sought to determine the contribution of both common and rare genetic variation to psychiatric and behavioural ADRs associated with LEV.

Methods: This case-control study compared cases of LEV-associated behavioural disorder (n=149) or psychotic reaction (n=37) to LEV-exposed people with no history of psychiatric ADRs (n=920). All samples were of European ancestry.

We performed GWAS analysis comparing those with LEV ADRs to controls. We estimated the polygenic risk scores (PRS) for schizophrenia and compared cases with LEV-associated psychotic reaction to controls. Rare variant burden analysis was performed using exome sequence data of cases with psychotic reactions (n=18) and controls (n=122).

Results: Univariate GWAS found no significant associations with either LEV-ADR. Polygenic risk score analysis showed that cases of leviteracetam-associated psychotic reaction had an increased polygenic risk score for schizophrenia relative to controls (p = 0.0097, estimate = 0.4886). The rare-variant analysis found no evidence of an increased burden of rare genetic variants in people who had experienced LEV-associated psychotic reaction relative to controls.

Significance: The polygenic burden for schizophrenia is a risk factor for levetiracetam-associated psychotic reaction. To assess the clinical utility of polygenic risk scores as a predictor, it should be tested in an independent and ideally prospective cohort. Larger sample sizes are required for the identification of significant univariate common genetic signals or rare genetic signals associated with psychiatric levetiracetam-adverse drug reactions.