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Testing of putative antiseizure drugs in a preclinical Dravet syndrome zebrafish model

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bioRxiv. 2023 Nov 15:2023.11.11.566723. doi: 10.1101/2023.11.11.566723. Preprint.


Dravet syndrome (DS) is a severe genetic epilepsy primarily caused by de novo mutations in a voltage-activated sodium channel gene (SCN1A). Patients face life-threatening seizures that are largely resistant to available anti-seizure medications (ASM). Preclinical DS animal models are a valuable tool to identify candidate ASMs for these patients. Among these, scn1lab mutant zebrafish exhibiting spontaneous seizure-like activity are particularly amenable to large-scale drug screening. Prior screening in a scn1lab mutant zebrafish line generated using N-ethyl-Nnitrosourea (ENU) identified valproate, stiripentol, and fenfluramine e.g., Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs with clinical application in the DS population. Successful phenotypic screening in scn1lab mutant zebrafish consists of two stages: (i) a locomotion-based assay measuring high-velocity convulsive swim behavior and (ii) an electrophysiology-based assay, using in vivo local field potential (LFP) recordings, to quantify electrographic seizure-like events. Using this strategy more than 3000 drug candidates have been screened in scn1lab zebrafish mutants. Here, we curated a list of nine additional anti-seizure drug candidates recently identified in preclinical models: 1-EBIO, AA43279, chlorzoxazone, donepezil, lisuride, mifepristone, pargyline, soticlestat and vorinostat. First-stage locomotion-based assays in scn1lab mutant zebrafish identified only 1-EBIO, chlorzoxazone and lisuride. However, second-stage LFP recording assays did not show significant suppression of spontaneous electrographic seizure activity for any of the nine anti-seizure drug candidates. Surprisingly, soticlestat induced frank electrographic seizure-like discharges in wild-type control zebrafish. Taken together, our results failed to replicate clear anti-seizure efficacy for these drug candidates highlighting a necessity for strict scientific standards in preclinical identification of ASMs.

PMID:38014342 | PMC:PMC10680609 | DOI:10.1101/2023.11.11.566723

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