Cannabidiol reduces soman-induced lethality and seizure severity in female plasma carboxylesterase knockout mice treated with midazolam

Neurotoxicology. 2021 Jan;82:130-136. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2020.12.002. Epub 2020 Dec 5.


Cannabidiol, approved for treatment of pediatric refractory epilepsy, has anti-seizure effects in various animal seizure models. Chemical warfare nerve agents, including soman, are organophosphorus chemicals that can induce seizure and death if untreated or if treatment is delayed. Our objective was to evaluate whether cannabidiol would ameliorate soman-induced toxicity using a mouse model that similar to humans lacks plasma carboxylesterase. In the present study, adult female plasma carboxylesterase knockout (Es1-/-) mice were pre-treated with cannabidiol (20-150 mg/kg) or vehicle 1 h prior to exposure to a seizure-inducing dose of soman and evaluated for survival and seizure activity. The muscarinic antagonist atropine sulfate and the oxime HI-6 were administered at 1 min after exposure, and the benzodiazepine midazolam was administered at 30 min after seizure onset. Cannabidiol (150 mg/kg) pre-treatment led to a robust increase in survival rate and attenuated body weight loss in soman-exposed mice treated with medical countermeasures, compared to mice pre-treated with vehicle. In addition, mice pretreated with cannabidiol (150 mg/kg) had a modest reduction in seizure severity after midazolam treatment compared to vehicle-pretreated. These findings of improved outcome with cannabidiol administration in a severe seizure model of soman exposure provide additional pre-clinical support for the benefits of cannabidiol against exposure to seizure-inducing chemical agents and suggest cannabidiol may augment the anti-seizure effects of midazolam.

Keywords: Anti-seizure; Cannabinoids; Chemical warfare nerve agent; Status epilepticus; Survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • Carboxylesterase / metabolism*
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Midazolam / pharmacology*
  • Seizures / chemically induced*
  • Seizures / mortality
  • Seizures / prevention & control
  • Soman / toxicity*
  • Survival Analysis


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Cannabidiol
  • Soman
  • Carboxylesterase
  • Midazolam