Cannabidivarin (CBDV) suppresses pentylenetetrazole (PTZ)-induced increases in epilepsy-related gene expression

PeerJ. 2013 Nov 21:1:e214. doi: 10.7717/peerj.214. eCollection 2013.


To date, anticonvulsant effects of the plant cannabinoid, cannabidivarin (CBDV), have been reported in several animal models of seizure. However, these behaviourally observed anticonvulsant effects have not been confirmed at the molecular level. To examine changes to epilepsy-related gene expression following chemical convulsant treatment and their subsequent control by phytocannabinoid administration, we behaviourally evaluated effects of CBDV (400 mg/kg, p.o.) on acute, pentylenetetrazole (PTZ: 95 mg/kg, i.p.)-induced seizures, quantified expression levels of several epilepsy-related genes (Fos, Casp 3, Ccl3, Ccl4, Npy, Arc, Penk, Camk2a, Bdnf and Egr1) by qPCR using hippocampal, neocortical and prefrontal cortical tissue samples before examining correlations between expression changes and seizure severity. PTZ treatment alone produced generalised seizures (median: 5.00) and significantly increased expression of Fos, Egr1, Arc, Ccl4 and Bdnf. Consistent with previous findings, CBDV significantly decreased PTZ-induced seizure severity (median: 3.25) and increased latency to the first sign of seizure. Furthermore, there were correlations between reductions of seizure severity and mRNA expression of Fos, Egr1, Arc, Ccl4 and Bdnf in the majority of brain regions in the CBDV+PTZ treated group. When CBDV treated animals were grouped into CBDV responders (criterion: seizure severity ≤3.25) and non-responders (criterion: seizure severity >3.25), PTZ-induced increases of Fos, Egr1, Arc, Ccl4 and Bdnf expression were suppressed in CBDV responders. These results provide the first molecular confirmation of behaviourally observed effects of the non-psychoactive, anticonvulsant cannabinoid, CBDV, upon chemically-induced seizures and serve to underscore its suitability for clinical development.

Keywords: Cannabidivarin; Cannabinoid; Epilepsy; Pentylenetetrazole; Seizure; qPCR.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by GW Pharmaceuticals Plc. and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co, Ltd. The funders gave final approval to submit the prepared manuscript to peer review for publication.