The electrophysiological effect of cannabidiol on hERG current and in guinea-pig and rabbit cardiac preparations

Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 30;10(1):16079. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-73165-2.


Cannabis use is associated with cardiovascular adverse effects ranging from arrhythmias to sudden cardiac death. The exact mechanism of action behind these activities is unknown. The aim of our work was to study the effect of cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol and 11-nor-9-carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol on cellular cardiac electrophysiological properties including ECG parameters, action potentials, hERG and IKr ion channels in HEK cell line and in rabbit and guinea pig cardiac preparations. CBD increased action potential duration in rabbit and guinea pig right ventricular papillary muscle at lower concentrations (1 µM, 2.5 µM and 5 µM) but did not significantly change it at 10 µM. CBD at high concentration (10 µM) decreased inward late sodium and L-type calcium currents as well. CBD inhibited hERG potassium channels with an IC50 value of 2.07 µM at room temperature and delayed rectifier potassium current with 6.5 µM at 37 °C, respectively. The frequency corrected QT interval (QTc) was significantly lengthened in anaesthetized guinea pig without significantly changing other ECG parameters. Although the IC50 value of CBD was higher than literary Cmax values after CBD smoking and oral intake, our results raise the possibility that hERG and potassium channel inhibition might have a role in the possible proarrhythmic adverse effects of cannabinoids in situations where metabolism of CBD impaired and/or the repolarization reserve is weakened.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • ERG1 Potassium Channel / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • ERG1 Potassium Channel / metabolism
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Guinea Pigs
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Papillary Muscles / drug effects*
  • Papillary Muscles / metabolism*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Rabbits


  • ERG1 Potassium Channel
  • KCNH2 protein, human
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Cannabidiol