Dravet Syndrome (DS) is a severe childhood epilepsy caused by heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the SCN1A gene encoding brain type-I voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.1. DS is a devastating disease that typically begins at six to nine months of age. Symptoms include recurrent intractable seizures and premature death with severe neuropsychiatric comorbidities, including hyperactivity, sleep disorder, anxiety-like behaviors, impaired social interactions, and cognitive deficits. There is an urgent unmet need for therapeutic approaches that control and cure DS, as available therapeutic interventions have poor efficacy, intolerance, or other side effects. Here we investigated the therapeutic potential of combining the benzodiazepine clonazepam (CLZ) with the nonpsychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) against thermally induced febrile seizures in a conditional mouse model of DS. Our results show that a low dose of CLZ alone or combined with CBD elevated the threshold temperature for the thermal induction of seizures. Combination of CLZ with CBD significantly reduced seizure duration compared to the vehicle or CLZ alone, but did not affect seizure severity, indicating potential additive actions of CLZ and CBD on the duration of seizures. Our findings provide preclinical evidence supporting combination therapy of CLZ and CBD for treatment of febrile seizures in DS.
Keywords: Benzodiazepines; Cannabidiol; Combination therapy; Dravet syndrome; Febrile seizures; Nav1.1; Scn1a.