Why won’t it stop? The dynamics of benzodiazepine resistance in status epilepticus

Richard J. Burman*, Richard E. Rosch, Jo M. Wilmshurst, Arjune Sen, Georgia Ramantani, Colin J. Akerman, Joseph V. Raimondo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Status epilepticus is a life-threatening neurological emergency that affects both adults and children. Approximately 36% of episodes of status epilepticus do not respond to the current preferred first-line treatment, benzodiazepines. The proportion of episodes that are refractory to benzodiazepines is higher in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) than in high-income countries (HICs). Evidence suggests that longer episodes of status epilepticus alter brain physiology, thereby contributing to the emergence of benzodiazepine resistance. Such changes include alterations in GABAA receptor function and in the transmembrane gradient for chloride, both of which erode the ability of benzodiazepines to enhance inhibitory synaptic signalling. Often, current management guidelines for status epilepticus do not account for these duration-related changes in pathophysiology, which might differentially impact individuals in LMICs, where the average time taken to reach medical attention is longer than in HICs. In this Perspective article, we aim to combine clinical insights and the latest evidence from basic science to inspire a new, context-specific approach to efficiently managing status epilepticus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-441
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Neurology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


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