Objective: Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is an autosomal-dominant genetic disorder with highly variable expression. The most common neurologic manifestation of TSC is epilepsy, which affects approximately 85% of patients, 63% of whom develop treatment-resistant epilepsy. Herein, we evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of cannabidiol (CBD), a nonpsychoactive compound derived from the marijuana plant, as an adjunct to current antiepileptic drugs in patients with refractory seizures in the setting of TSC.
Methods: Eighteen of the 56 patients who have enrolled in our current expanded-access study of cannabidiol for patients with treatment-resistant epilepsy carry a diagnosis of TSC. After an initial baseline period of 1 month, patients began treatment with CBD. The initial dose of 5 mg/kg/day was increased by 5 mg/kg/day every week up to a maximum dose of 50 mg/kg/day, if tolerated. Weekly seizure frequencies, percent change in seizure frequencies, and responder rates were calculated during the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th month of treatment with CBD.
Results: The median weekly seizure frequency during the baseline period was 22.0 (interquartile range [IQR] 14.8-57.4), which decreased to 13.3 (IQR 5.1-22.1) after 3 months of treatment with cannabidiol. The median percent change in total weekly seizure frequency was -48.8% (IQR -69.1% to -11.1%) after 3 months of treatment. The 50% responder rates over the course of the study were 50%, 50%, 38.9%, 50%, and 50% after 2, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of treatment with CBD, respectively. In patients taking clobazam concurrently with CBD (n = 12), the responder rate after 3 months of treatment was 58.3%, compared to 33.3% in patients not taking clobazam (n = 6). Twelve (66.7%) of 18 patients in this study experienced at least one adverse event thought possibly related to CBD; the most common adverse events were drowsiness (n = 8, 44.4%), ataxia (n = 5, 27.8%), and diarrhea (n = 4, 22.2%).
Significance: Although double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are still necessary, these findings suggest that cannabidiol may be an effective and well-tolerated treatment option for patients with refractory seizures in TSC.
Keywords: Cannabidiol; Efficacy; Seizures; Tolerability; Tuberous sclerosis complex.
Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2016 International League Against Epilepsy.