Phenotype-Based Screening of Synthetic Cannabinoids in a Dravet Syndrome Zebrafish Model.

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Dravet syndrome is a catastrophic epilepsy of childhood, characterized by cognitive impairment, severe seizures, and increased risk for sudden unexplained death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Although refractory to conventional antiepileptic drugs, emerging preclinical and clinical evidence suggests that modulation of the endocannabinoid system could be therapeutic in these patients. Preclinical research on this topic is limited as cannabis, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), are designated by United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as illegal substances. In this study, we used a validated zebrafish model of Dravet syndrome, scn1lab homozygous mutants, to screen for anti-seizure activity in a commercially available library containing 370 synthetic cannabinoid (SC) compounds. SCs are intended for experimental use and not restricted by DEA designations. Primary phenotype-based screening was performed using a locomotion-based assay in 96-well plates, and a secondary local field potential recording assay was then used to confirm suppression of electrographic epileptiform events. Identified SCs with anti-seizure activity, in both assays, included five SCs structurally classified as indole-based cannabinoids JWH 018 N-(5-chloropentyl) analog, JWH 018 N-(2-methylbutyl) isomer, 5-fluoro PB-22 5-hydroxyisoquinoline isomer, 5-fluoro ADBICA, and AB-FUBINACA 3-fluorobenzyl isomer. Our approach demonstrates that two-stage phenotype-based screening in a zebrafish model of Dravet syndrome successfully identifies SCs with anti-seizure activity.



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