Tetrahydrocannabinols: potential cannabimimetic agents for cancer therapy


“Tetrahydrocannabinols (THCs) antagonize the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, whose signaling to the endocannabinoid system is essential for controlling cell survival and proliferation as well as psychoactive effects. Most tumor cells express a much higher level of CB1 and CB2; THCs have been investigated as potential cancer therapeutic due to their cannabimimetic properties. To date, THCs have been prescribed as palliative medicine to cancer patients but not as an anticancer modality.

Growing evidence of preclinical research demonstrates that THCs reduce tumor progression by stimulating apoptosis and autophagy and inhibiting two significant hallmarks of cancer pathogenesis: metastasis and angiogenesis.

However, the degree of their anticancer effects depends on the origin of the tumor site, the expression of cannabinoid receptors on tumor cells, and the dosages and types of THC. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge on the molecular processes that THCs target for their anticancer effects. It also emphasizes the substantial knowledge gaps that should be of concern in future studies. We also discuss the therapeutic effects of THCs and the problems that will need to be addressed in the future. Clarifying unanswered queries is a prerequisite to translating the THCs into an effective anticancer regime.”



Parkin Mediates Cannabidiol Prevention of Amyloid-Beta-Induced Senescence in Human Astrocytes

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“Introduction: As aging is the leading risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), ablation of senescent cells is a promising therapeutic approach to prevent AD. It is known that astrocytes lose their ability to maintain a healthy brain environment when aging. Studies have recently shown that cannabidiol (CBD) provides a promising therapeutic avenue for AD; however, if or how CBD prevents astrocyte aging is not known. 

Materials and Methods: In this study, human astrocytes were employed to measure amyloid-beta (Aβ)-induced senescence features, including senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SA-β-gal), p16INK4Ap21WAF1, and p53. The effects of CBD on the production of mitochondrial dysfunction and mitophagy pathway were measured by Western blot and fluorescence assay. Caenorhabditis elegans was used as in vivo AD model to investigate the effects of CBD on life span and health span. All experimental procedures were approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee, University of Wollongong, Australia. 

Results: In human astrocytes, we show that treatment with Aβ, an endogenous pathogenic agent of AD, results in an increase in the percentage of SA-β-gal-positive cells and induces mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, CBD treatment protects from Aβ-induced senescence. Furthermore, the anti-senescence and anti-apoptotic activities of CBD were observed to be mediated through the protective effect of Parkin-dependent mitophagy. In C. elegans, we used the transgenic GRU102 strain, which expresses the human Aβ peptide, and found that CBD treatment extended life span, improved pumping rate, and decreased mitochondrial ROS. 

Conclusion and Significance: Our results demonstrate that CBD prevents the human astrocyte senescence induced by Aβ by a mechanism involving the Parkin-mediated mitophagy pathway. Our findings support the new therapeutic avenues of CBD for the treatment of AD patients.”


Real world data on cannabidiol treatment of various epilepsy subtypes: a retrospective, multicenter study

“Objective: Cannabidiol (CBD) is approved for treatment of Dravet syndrome (DS), Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), and tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Several studies suggest anti-seizure effects also beyond these three epilepsy syndromes.

Methods: In a retrospective multi-center study, we analyzed the efficacy and tolerability of CBD in patients with epilepsy at 16 epilepsy centers.

Results: The study cohort comprised 311 patients with epilepsy with a median age of 11.3 (0-72) years (235 children and adolescents, 76 adults). Therapy with CBD was off-label in 91.3% of cases due to age, epilepsy subtype, lack of adjunct therapy with clobazam, and/or higher dose applied. CBD titration regimens were slower than recommended, with good tolerability of higher doses particularly in children. Of all patients, 36.9% experienced a reduction in seizure frequency of >50%, independent of their epilepsy subtype or clobazam co-medication. The median observation period was 15.8 months. About one third of all patients discontinued therapy within the observation period due to adverse effects or lack of efficacy. Adverse effects were reported frequently (46.9%).

Significance: Our study highlights that CBD has an anti-seizure effect comparable to other anti-seizure medications with a positive safety profile independent of the epilepsy subtype. Comedication with clobazam was not associated with a better outcome. Higher doses to achieve seizure frequency reduction were safe, particularly in children. These findings call for further trials for an extended approval of CBD for other epilepsy subtypes and for children < 2 years of age.”



Molecular insights into the interaction of eighteen different variants of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins with sixteen therapeutically important phytocompounds: in silico approach

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“SARS-CoV-2 has mutated many times among different populations. We analyzed wild-type spike protein and 18 different variants of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein known until the beginning of 2022 (alpha, beta, B.1.429, B.1.616, B.1.620, B.1.617.3, C.1.2, delta, epsilon, eta, gamma, iota, kappa, lambda, mu, omicron, theta, and zeta) for their interaction with 16 phytocompounds and remdesivir, resulting into 425 combinations. The largest number of mutations has been reported in the omicron followed by delta variant. However, the virulence of the delta variant has been reported higher as compared to omicron. Mutations at a few locations (D215G, K417N, E484K, N501Y, D614G, and P681H) were common in most of the variants.

3 D structures of all the 18 spike proteins were created using SWISS-MODEL to test the binding affinities with caffeine theophylline, emodin, vitexin, berberine, curcumin, piperine, quercetin, artemisinin, carvacrol, capsaicin, tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, α- pinene, β- pinene and gingerol.

Phytocompounds and mutant variants were prepared using AutoDock 4.2.6 software. Binding affinities of the selected phytocompounds with the different mutant spike proteins were achieved using AutoDock Vina. Out of all combinations investigated, the best binding affinities were observed with 3 variants of SAR-CoV-2 with 5 phytocompounds along with remdesivir. The range of best binding energies varied from -9.1 to -8.0 kcal/mol. Further, MD simulation was done for selected 9 phytocompound-spike mutant complexes for analyzing the stability of interactions for 100 ns.

ADMET studies via ProTox-II and SwissADME displayed that phytocompounds are safe and less toxic in comparison to remdesivir.”



The impact of phyto- and endo-cannabinoids on central nervous system diseases:A review

Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine

“Background and aim: Cannabis sativa L. is a medicinal plant with a long history. Phyto-cannabinoids are a class of compounds from C. sativa L. with varieties of structures. Endocannabinoids exist in the human body. This article provides an overview of natural cannabinoids (phyto-cannabinoids and endocannabinoids) with an emphasis on their pharmacology activities.

Experimental procedure: The keywords “Cannabis sativa L″, “cannabinoids”, and “central nervous system (CNS) diseases” were used for searching and collecting pieces of literature from PubMed, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. The data were extracted and analyzed to explore the effects of cannabinoids on CNS diseases.

Result and conclusion: In this paper, schematic diagrams are used to intuitively show the phyto-cannabinoids skeletons’ mutual conversion and pharmacological activities, with special emphasis on their relevant pharmacological activities on central nervous system (CNS) diseases. It was found that the endocannabinoid system and microglia play a crucial role in the treatment of CNS diseases. In the past few years, pharmacological studies focused on Δ9-THC, CBD, and the endocannabinoids system. It is expected to encourage new studies on a more deep exploration of other types of cannabinoids and the mechanism of their pharmacological activities in the future.”



The Endocannabinoid System as a Target for Neuroprotection/Neuroregeneration in Perinatal Hypoxic-Ischemic Brain Injury


“The endocannabinoid (EC) system is a complex cell-signaling system that participates in a vast number of biological processes since the prenatal period, including the development of the nervous system, brain plasticity, and circuit repair. This neuromodulatory system is also involved in the response to endogenous and environmental insults, being of special relevance in the prevention and/or treatment of vascular disorders, such as stroke and neuroprotection after neonatal brain injury. Perinatal hypoxia-ischemia leading to neonatal encephalopathy is a devastating condition with no therapeutic approach apart from moderate hypothermia, which is effective only in some cases. This overview, therefore, gives a current description of the main components of the EC system (including cannabinoid receptors, ligands, and related enzymes), to later analyze the EC system as a target for neonatal neuroprotection with a special focus on its neurogenic potential after hypoxic-ischemic brain injury.”


“The ubiquitous lipid signaling-based EC system is involved in outstanding regulatory functions throughout the human body, including neural development under physiological conditions and neuroprotection, and repair after pathophysiological processes.In the context of neonatal brain injury, the administration of endogenous or exogenous CBs, or the blockage of EC degradation, has revealed a strong neuroprotective response in different preclinical models after HI. Similarly, the possibility of tissue repair in the developing brain by enhancing the proliferative potential of the SVZ and SGZ neurogenic niches is currently under active investigation. Selective modulation of the EC system in the sites of damage by targeting the enzymes responsible for EC degradation may represent an important therapeutic approach in order to avoid non-desired widespread effects.Despite the clinical use of CB-related drugs that must be taken with caution, the modulation of the EC system to ameliorate the neurological consequences after neonatal HI is currently an exciting field of research with enormous possibilities for clinical translation.”


The Effect of Cannabis Plant Extracts on Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma and the Quest for Cannabis-Based Personalized Therapy


“Cannabis sativa plants have a wide diversity in their metabolite composition among their different chemovars, facilitating diverse anti-tumoral effects on cancer cells. This research examined the anti-tumoral effects of 24 cannabis extracts representative of three primary types of chemovars on head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The chemical composition of the extracts was determined using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Mass Spectrometry (MS). The most potent anti-tumoral extracts were type III decarboxylated extracts, with high levels of Cannabidiol (CBD). We identified extract 296 (CAN296) as the most potent in inducing HNSCC cell death via proapoptotic and anti-proliferative effects. Using chemical fractionation of CAN296, we identified the CBD fraction as the primary inducer of the anti-tumoral activity. We succeeded in defining the combination of CBD with cannabichromene (CBC) or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) present in minute concentrations in the extract, yielding a synergic impact that mimics the extract’s full effect. The cytotoxic effect could be maximized by combining CBD with either CBC or THC in a ratio of 2:1. This research suggests using decarboxylated CBD-type extracts enriched with CBC for future preclinical trials aimed at HNSCC treatment.”


“The survival rate of head and neck cancer has only improved slightly over the last quarter century, raising the need for novel therapies to better treat this disease. This research examined the anti-tumor effects of 24 different types of cannabis extracts on head and neck cancer cells. Type III decarboxylated extracts with high levels of Cannabidiol (CBD) were the most effective in killing cancer cells. From these extracts, the specific active molecules were recognized. Combining CBD with Cannabichromene (CBC) in a 2:1 ratio made the effect even stronger. These findings can help doctors match cannabis extracts to treat head and neck cancer. CBD extracts enriched with the non-psychoactive CBC can offer patients more effective treatment. Further research is needed to develop new topical treatments from such extracts.”

“This research suggests using whole cannabis extracts, which are decarboxylated CBD-rich, to induce cancer cell death. In recent years many cancer patients have been treated with cannabis extracts as a palliative treatment. Based on this research, these chemovars can provide additional anti-cancer properties in addition to the palliative effects that cancer patients can benefit from.”


Hemp Protein Hydrolysates Modulate Inflammasome-Related Genes in Microglial Cells


“A prolonged inflammatory response can lead to the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Enzymatic hydrolysis is a sustainable way to increase the value of protein sources by obtaining peptides that can exert bioactivity.

Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) protein hydrolysates have been proven to exert anti-inflammatory activity.

In this study, two hemp protein hydrolysate (HPHs), obtained with Alcalase as sole catalyst, or with Alcalase followed by Flavourzyme, were evaluated as inflammatory mediators (TNFα, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-10), microglial polarization markers (Ccr7iNosArg1, and Ym1), and genes related to inflammasome activation (Nlrp3AscCasp1, and Il18), employing the lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced neuroinflammation model in murine BV-2 microglial cells.

A significant decrease of the expression of proinflammatory genes (e.g., TnfαCcr7inos, and Nlrp3, among others) and increase of the expression anti-inflammatory cytokines in microglial cells was observed after treatment with the test HPHs. This result in the cell model suggests a polarization toward an anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype. Our results show that the evaluated HPHs show potential neuroprotective activity in microglial cells via the inflammasome.”


“Neuroinflammation can lead to the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Food-derived peptides released by the action of enzymes have been proven to modulate several physiological processes. In this study, peptides obtained from hemp protein were evaluated as anti-inflammatory agents employing a cell model, measuring the responses of inflammatory mediators, microglial polarization markers, and genes related to inflammasome activation, as markers of inflammation and the potential counteraction exerted by the peptides, related to neurodegenerative processes. Results showed a neuroprotective effect based on anti-inflammatory activity of the peptides, via the inflammasome. The use of these peptides in the diet could help to prevent inflammation and promote a healthy aging of humans.”


Cannabidiol Rescues TNF-α-Inhibited Proliferation, Migration, and Osteogenic/Odontogenic Differentiation of Dental Pulp Stem Cells


“Strategies to promote dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) functions including proliferation, migration, pro-angiogenic effects, and odontogenic/osteogenic differentiation are in urgent need to restore pulpitis-damaged dentin/pulp regeneration and DPSCs-based bone tissue engineering applications. Cannabidiol (CBD), an active component of Cannabis sativa has shown anti-inflammation, chemotactic, anti-microbial, and tissue regenerative potentials. Based on these facts, this study aimed to analyze the effect of CBD on DPSCs proliferation, migration, and osteogenic/odontogenic differentiation in basal and inflammatory conditions. Highly pure DPSCs with characteristics of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were successfully isolated, as indicated by the results of flowcytometry and multi-lineage (osteogenic, adipogenic, and chondrogenic) differentiation potentials. Among the concentration tested (0.1-12.5 µM), CBD (2.5 μM) showed the highest anabolic effect on the proliferation and osteogenic/odontogenic differentiation of DPSCs. Pro-angiogenic growth factor VEGF mRNA expression was robustly higher in CBD-treated DPSCs. CBD also prompted the migration of DPSCs and CBD receptor CB1 and CB2 expression in DPSCs. TNF-α inhibited the viability, migration, and osteogenic/odontogenic differentiation of DPSCs and CBD reversed these effects. CBD alleviated the TNF-α-upregulated expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6 in DPSCs. In conclusion, our results indicate the possible application of CBD on DPSCs-based dentin/pulp and bone regeneration.”


“We tested the effect of CBD on DPSCs functions required for dentin and pulp revitalization and bone regeneration, including viability, migration, osteogenic/odontogenic differentiation, pro-angiogenic potential, and anti-inflammatory effects in vitro experiments. Our results showed the anabolic effect of CBD in these functions of DPSCs both in the basal and inflammatory situations suggesting the possible application of CBD or/and DPSCs on oral tissue regeneration including dentin/pulp and bone. Our results warrant in situ studies using dentin/pulp and bone regeneration models to further confirms these anabolic roles of CBD.”


Recreational cannabis and opioid distribution

“Twenty-one U.S. states have passed recreational cannabis laws as of November 2022. Cannabis may be a substitute for prescription opioids in the treatment of chronic pain. Previous studies have assessed recreational cannabis laws’ effects on opioid prescriptions financed by specific private or public payers or dispensed to a unique endpoint.

Our study adds to the literature in three important ways: by (1) examining these laws’ impacts on prescription opioid dispensing across all payers and endpoints, (2) adjusting for important opioid-related policies such as opioid prescribing limits, and (3) modeling opioids separately by type. We implement two-way fixed-effects regressions and leverage variation from eleven U.S. states that adopted a recreational cannabis law (RCL) between 2010 and 2019.

We find that RCLs lead to a reduction in codeine dispensed at retail pharmacies. Among prescription opioids, codeine is particularly likely to be used non-medically. Thus, the finding that RCLs appear to reduce codeine dispensing is potentially promising from a public health perspective.”



“When recreational cannabis is legal, codeine demand drops”