The endocannabinoid system impacts seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome

Lyndsey L. Anderson, Peter T. Doohan, Nicole A. Hawkins, Dilara Bahceci, Sumanta Garai, Ganesh A. Thakur, Jennifer A. Kearney, Jonathon C. Arnold*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Dravet syndrome is a catastrophic childhood epilepsy with multiple seizure types that are refractory to treatment. The endocannabinoid system regulates neuronal excitability so a deficit in endocannabinoid signaling could lead to hyperexcitability and seizures. Thus, we sought to determine whether a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system might contribute to seizure phenotypes in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome and whether enhancing endocannabinoid tone is anticonvulsant. Scn1a+/- mice model the clinical features of Dravet syndrome: hyperthermia-induced seizures, spontaneous seizures and reduced survival. We examined whether Scn1a+/- mice exhibit deficits in the endocannabinoid system by measuring brain cannabinoid receptor expression and endocannabinoid concentrations. Next, we determined whether pharmacologically enhanced endocannabinoid tone was anticonvulsant in Scn1a+/- mice. We used GAT229, a positive allosteric modulator of the cannabinoid (CB1) receptor, and ABX-1431, a compound that inhibits the degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). The Scn1a+/- phenotype is strain-dependent with mice on a 129S6/SvEvTac (129) genetic background having no overt phenotype and those on an F1 (129S6/SvEvTac x C57BL/6J) background exhibiting a severe epilepsy phenotype. We observed lower brain cannabinoid CB1 receptor expression in the seizure-susceptible F1 compared to seizure-resistant 129 strain, suggesting an endocannabinoid deficiency might contribute to seizure susceptibility. GAT229 and ABX-1431 were anticonvulsant against hyperthermia-induced seizures. However, subchronic ABX1431 treatment increased spontaneous seizure frequency despite reducing seizure severity. Cnr1 is a putative genetic modifier of epilepsy in the Scn1a+/- mouse model of Dravet syndrome. Compounds that increase endocannabinoid tone could be developed as novel treatments for Dravet syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108897
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • Cannabinoid receptor
  • Dravet syndrome
  • Endocannabinoid system
  • Epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Pharmacology


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