Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) is a severe developmental epileptic encephalopathy, and available interventions fail to control seizures in most patients. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a major chemical of marijuana, which has anti-seizure properties and different mechanisms of action compared with other approved antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).
The aim was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of CBD as adjunctive treatment for seizures in patients with LGS using meta-analytical techniques.
Randomized, placebo-controlled, single- or double-blinded trials were identified. Main outcomes included the ≥ 50% reduction in baseline drop and non-drop seizure frequency, and the incidence of treatment withdrawal and adverse events (AEs). Risk ratios (RRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated through the inverse variance method.
Two trials were included involving 396 participants. Patients presenting ≥ 50% reduction in drop seizure frequency during the treatment were 40.0% with CBD and 19.3% with placebo [RR 2.12 (95% CI 1.48-3.03); p < 0.001]. The rate of non-drop seizure frequency was reduced by 50% or more in 49.4% of patients in the CBD and 30.4% in the placebo arms [RR 1.62 (95% CI 1.09-2.43); p = 0.018]. The RR for CBD withdrawal was 4.93 (95% CI 1.50-16.22; p = 0.009). The RR to develop any AE during CBD treatment was 1.24 (95% CI 1.11-1.38; p < 0.001). AEs significantly associated with CBD were somnolence, decreased appetite, diarrhea and increased serum aminotransferases.
Adjunctive CBD resulted in a greater reduction in seizure frequency and a higher rate of AEs than placebo in patients with LGS presenting seizures uncontrolled by concomitant AEDs.