Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors

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Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are a class of pharmaceuticals that suppress the activity of carbonic anhydrase.


Acetazolamide is an inhibitor of carbonic anhydrase. It is used for glaucoma, epilepsy (rarely), benign intracranial hypertension, and altitude sickness. It can act as a mild diuretic by reducing NaCl and bicarbonate reabsorption in the proximal tubule. However, the distal segment partially compensates for the sodium loss, and the bicarbonaturia will produce a metabolic acidosis, further reducing the effect.

Methazolamide is also a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor. It is longer-acting than acetazolamide and has less effect on the kidney[citation needed].

Dorzolamide is a sulfonamide and topical carbonic anhydrase II inhibitor. It is indicated for the reduction of elevated intraocular pressure in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension and who are insufficiently responsive to beta-blockers. Inhibition of carbonic anhydrase II in the ciliary processes of the eye decreases aqueous humor secretion, presumably by slowing the formation of bicarbonate ions with subsequent reduction in sodium and fluid transport.

Topiramate is a weak inhibitor of carbonic anhydrase, particularly subtypes II and IV. It is a sulfamate-substituted monosaccharide, related to fructose. In the US, it is FDA-approved as an anticonvulsant to treat epilepsy and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and also to treat migrane headaches. In rare cases, the inhibition of carbonic anhydrase may be strong enough to cause metabolic acidosis of clinical importance.

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