The mode of action of riluzole is unknown. Its pharmacological properties include the following, some of which may be related to its effect: 1) an inhibitory effect on glutamate release (activation of glutamate reuptake), 2) inactivation of voltage-dependent sodium channels, and 3) ability to interfere with intracellular events that follow transmitter binding at excitatory amino acid receptors.
Riluzole, a member of the benzothiazole class, is indicated for the treatment of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Riluzole extends survival and/or time to tracheostomy. It is also neuroprotective in various in vivo experimental models of neuronal injury involving excitotoxic mechanisms. The etiology and pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are not known, although a number of hypotheses have been advanced. One hypothesis is that motor neurons, made vulnerable through either genetic predisposition or environmental factors, are injured by glutamate. In some cases of familial ALS the enzyme superoxide dismutase has been found to be defective.
Riluzole is extensively metabolized to six major and a number of minor metabolites, which have not all been identified to date. Metabolism is mostly hepatic, consisting of cytochrome P450_dependent hydroxylation and glucuronidation. CYP1A2 is the primary isozyme involved in N-hydroxylation; CYP2D6, CYP2C19, CYP3A4, and CYP2E1 are considered unlikely to contribute significantly to riluzole metabolism in humans.