To summarize recent developments in therapeutic options, both medical and surgical, for patients with drug-resistant generalized epilepsy syndromes, which continue to be a multifaceted challenge for patients and physicians.
Newer generation pharmaceutical options are now available, such as brivaracetam, rufinamide, lacosamide, perampanel, and cannabidiol. Less restrictive dietary options appear to be nearly as effective as classic ketogenic diet for amelioration of seizures. The latest implantable devices include responsive neurostimulation and deep brain stimulation. Corpus callosotomy is an effective treatment for some seizure types, and newer and less invasive approaches are being explored. Resective surgical options have demonstrated success in carefully selected patients despite generalized electrographic findings on electroencephalogram. The current literature reflects a widening range of clinical experience with newer anticonvulsant medications including cannabinoids, dietary therapies, surgical approaches, and neurostimulation devices for patients with intractable generalized epilepsy.”
“Cannabinoid receptor (CBR) agonist could act as a protective agent against seizure susceptibility in animal models of epilepsy.
Studies have shown that potassium channels could play a key role in ameliorating neuronal excitability.
In this study, we attempted to evaluate how CBRs and Adenosine Tri-Phosphate (ATP)-sensitive potassium channels collaborate to affect seizure susceptibility by changing the clonic seizure threshold (CST).
In conclusion, CB1 agonist accomplishes at least a part of its anticonvulsant actions through ATP-sensitive potassium channels, probably by decreasing the mitochondrial ATP level to open the potassium channel to induce its anticonvulsant effect.”
“A significant proportion of neonatal and childhood seizures are poorly controlled by existing anti-seizure drugs (ASDs), likely due to prominent differences in ionic homeostasis and network connectivity between the immature and mature brain. In addition to the poor efficacy of current ASDs, many induce apoptosis, impair synaptic development, and produce behavioral deficits when given during early postnatal development.
There is growing interest in new targets, such as cannabidiol (CBD) and its propyl analog cannabidivarin (CBDV) for early life indications. While CBD was recently approved for treatment of refractory childhood epilepsies, little is known about the efficacy or safety of CBDV.
Here, we addressed this gap through a systematic evaluation of CBDV against multiple seizure models in postnatal day (P) 10 and 20 animals. We also evaluated the impact of CBDV on acute neurotoxicity in immature rats.
CBDV (50-200 mg/kg) displayed an age and model-specific profile of anticonvulsant action.
Finally, CBDV treatment generally avoided induction of neuronal degeneration in immature rats.
Together, the efficacy and safety profile of CBDV suggest it may have therapeutic value for early life seizures.”
“The endogenous cannabinoid system is involved in the physiological inhibitory control of pain and is of particular interest for the development of therapeutic approaches for pain management.
Selective activation of the peripheral CB1 cannabinoid receptor has been shown to suppress the heightened firing of primary afferents, which is the peripheral mechanism underlying neuropathic pain after nerve injury. However, the mechanism underlying this effect of CB1 receptor remains unclear.
The large-conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels have been reported to participate in anticonvulsant and vasorelaxant effects of cannabinoids. We asked whether BK channels participate in cannabinoids-induced analgesia and firing-suppressing effects in primary afferents after nerve injury.
Here, using mice with chronic constriction injury(CCI)-induced neuropathic pain, antinociception action and firing-suppressing effect of HU210 were measured before and after BK channel blocker application. We found that local peripheral application of HU210 alleviated CCI-induced pain behavior and suppressed the heightened firing of injured fibers. Co-administration of IBTX with HU210 significantly reversed the analgesia and the firing-suppressing effect of HU210.
This result indicated that the peripheral analgesic effects of cannabinoids depends on activation of BK channels.”
“Both Δ9 Tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) components of cannabis, have been shown to have anticonvulsant effects.
Cannabis oils are used to treat seizures in drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE). Recent trials provide data on dosing, side effects, and efficacy of CBD, yet there is a paucity of information on THC in epilepsy.
Primary objective was to establish dosing and tolerability of TIL-TC150 – a cannabis plant extract produced by Tilray®, containing 100 mg/mL CBD and 2 mg/mL THC- in children with Dravet syndrome. Secondary objectives were to assess impact of therapy on seizures, electroencephalogram (EEG) and quality of life.
Nineteen participants completed the 20-week intervention. Mean dose achieved was 13.3 mg/kg/day of CBD (range 7-16 mg/kg/day) and 0.27 mg/kg/day of THC (range 0.14-0.32 mg/kg/day). Adverse events, common during titration included somnolence, anorexia, and diarrhea. Abnormalities of liver transaminases and platelets were observed with concomitant valproic acid therapy. There was a statistically significant improvement in quality of life, reduction in EEG spike activity, and median motor seizure reduction of 70.6%, with 50% responder rate of 63%.
TIL-TC150 was safe and well tolerated in our subjects. TIL-TC150 treatment resulted in a reduction in seizure counts, spike index on EEG, and improved quality of life measures. This study provides safety and dosing information for THC-containing cannabinoid preparations.”
“Cannabis sativa contains many related compounds known as phytocannabinoids. The main psychoactive and non-psychoactive compounds are Δ9-tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), respectively.
Much of the evidence for clinical efficacy of CBD-mediated anti-epileptic effects has been from case reports or smaller surveys. The mechanisms for CBD’s anticonvulsant effects are unclear and likely involve non-cannabinoid receptor pathways.
CBD is reported to modulate several ion channels, including sodium channels (Nav). Evaluating therapeutic mechanisms and safety of CBD demands a richer understanding of its interactions with central nervous system targets. Here, we used voltage-clamp electrophysiology of HEK-293 cells and iPSC neurons to characterize the effects of CBD on Nav channels.
Our results show that CBD inhibits hNav1.1-1.7 currents, with an IC50 of 1.9-3.8 μM, suggesting that this inhibition could occur at therapeutically relevant concentrations. A steep Hill slope of ~3 suggested multiple interactions of CBD with Nav channels. CBD exhibited resting-state blockade, became more potent at depolarized potentials, and also slowed recovery from inactivation, supporting the idea that CBD binding preferentially stabilizes inactivated Nav channel states. We also found that CBD inhibits other voltage-dependent currents from diverse channels, including bacterial homomeric Nav channel (NaChBac) and voltage-gated potassium channel subunit Kv2.1. Lastly, the CBD block of Nav was temperature-dependent, with potency increasing at lower temperatures.
We conclude that CBD’s mode of action likely involves (1) compound partitioning in lipid membranes, which alters membrane fluidity affecting gating, and (2) undetermined direct interactions with sodium and potassium channels, whose combined effects are loss of channel excitability.”
“For millennia, there has been interest in the use of cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy.
However, it is only recently that appropriately powered controlled studies have been completed. In this review, we present an update on the research investigating the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, in the treatment of epilepsy.
While the anticonvulsant mechanism of action of CBD has not been entirely elucidated, we discuss the most recent data available including its low affinity for the endocannabinoid receptors and possible indirect modulation of these receptors via blocking the breakdown of anandamide.
Additional targets include activation of the transient receptor potential of vanilloid type-1 (TRPV1), antagonist action at GPR55, targeting of abnormal sodium channels, blocking of T-type calcium channels, modulation of adenosine receptors, modulation of voltage-dependent anion selective channel protein (VDAC1), and modulation of tumor necrosis factor alpha release.
We also discuss the most recent studies on various artisanal CBD products conducted in patients with epilepsy in the USA and internationally. While a high percentage of patients in these studies reported improvement in seizures, these studies were either retrospective or conducted via survey. Dosage/preparation of CBD was either unknown or not controlled in the majority of these studies.
Finally, we present data from both open-label expanded access programs (EAPs) and randomized placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of a highly purified oral preparation of CBD, which was recently approved by the FDA in the treatment of epilepsy.
In the EAPs, there was a significant improvement in seizure frequency seen in a large number of patients with various types of treatment-refractory epilepsy. The RCTs have shown significant seizure reduction compared to placebo in patients with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Finally, we describe the available data on adverse effects and drug-drug interactions with highly purified CBD.
While this product is overall well tolerated, the most common side effects are diarrhea and sedation, with sedation being much more common in patients taking concomitant clobazam. There was also an increased incidence of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase elevations while taking CBD, with many of the patients with these abnormalities also taking concomitant valproate. CBD has a clear interaction with clobazam, significantly increasing the levels of its active metabolite N-desmethylclobazam in several studies; this is felt to be due to CBD’s inhibition of CYP2C19. EAP data demonstrate other possible interactions with rufinamide, zonisamide, topiramate, and eslicarbazepine. Additionally, there is one case report demonstrating need for warfarin dose adjustment with concomitant CBD.
Understanding of CBD’s efficacy and safety in the treatment of TRE has expanded significantly in the last few years. Future controlled studies of various ratios of CBD and THC are needed as there could be further therapeutic potential of these compounds for patients with epilepsy.”
“Stressful conditions affect the brain’s neurotransmission and neural pathways that are involved in seizure susceptibility. Stress alters the intensity and/or frequency of seizures.
Although evidence indicates that chronic stress exerts proconvulsant effects and acute stress has anticonvulsant properties, the underlying mechanisms which mediate these effects are not well understood.
In the present study, we assessed the role of endogenous opioids, endocannabinoids, as well as functional interaction between opioid and cannabinoid systems in the anticonvulsant effects of acute foot-shock stress (FSS) against pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced seizures in mice.
Opioid and cannabinoid systems are involved in the anticonvulsant effects of acute FSS, and these neurotransmission systems interact functionally in response to acute FSS.”
“Anticonvulsant effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, have not been investigated in the juvenile brain. We hypothesized that CBD would attenuate epileptiform activity at an age when the brain first becomes vulnerable to neurotoxicity and social/cognitive impairments.
To induce seizures, kainic acid (KA) was injected either into the hippocampus (KAih) or systemically (KAip) on postnatal (P) day 20. CBD was coadministered (KA + CBDih, KA + CBDip) or injected 30 minutes postseizure onset (KA/CBDih, KA/CBDip).
Hyperactivity, clonic convulsions, and electroencephalogram rhythmic oscillations were attenuated or absent after KA + CBDih and reduced after KA + CBDip. NeuN immunohistochemistry revealed neuroprotection.
Augmented reactive glia number and expression were reversed in CA1 but persisted deep within the dentate hilus. Parvalbumin-positive (PV+) interneurons were reduced in both models, whereas immunolabeling was dramatically increased within ipsilateral and contralateral dendritic/neuropilar fields following KA + CBDih. Cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) expression was minimally affected after KAih contrasting elevations observed after KAip.
Intracranial coadministration data suggest that CBD has higher efficacy in epilepsy with hippocampal focus rather than when extrahippocampal amygdala/cortical structures are triggered by systemic treatments. Inhibition of surviving PV+ and CB1+ interneurons may be facilitated by CBD implying a protective role in regulating hippocampal seizures and neurotoxicity at juvenile ages.”