Endocannabinoid system as a regulator of tumor cell malignancy – biological pathways and clinical significance.

“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) comprises cannabinoid receptors (CBs), endogenous cannabinoids, and enzymes responsible for their synthesis, transport, and degradation of (endo)cannabinoids.

To date, two CBs, CB1 and CB2, have been characterized; however, orphan G-protein-coupled receptor GPR55 has been suggested to be the third putative CB.

Several different types of cancer present abnormal expression of CBs, as well as other components of ECS, and this has been shown to correlate with the clinical outcome.

Although most effects of (endo)cannabinoids are mediated through stimulation of classical CBs, they also interact with several molecules, either prosurvival or proapoptotic molecules.

It should be noted that the mode of action of exogenous cannabinoids differs significantly from that of endocannabinoid and results from the studies on their activity both in vivo and in vitro could not be easily compared.

This review highlights the main signaling pathways involved in the antitumor activity of cannabinoids and the influence of their activation on cancer cell biology.

We also discuss changes in the expression pattern of the ECS in various cancer types that have an impact on disease progression and patient survival.

A growing amount of experimental data imply possible exploitation of cannabinoids in cancer therapy.”


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Endocannabinoid system: Role in depression, reward and pain control (Review).


“Depression and pain co-exist in almost 80% of patients and are associated with impaired health-related quality of life, often contributing to high mortality. However, the majority of patients who suffer from the comorbid depression and pain are not responsive to pharmacological treatments that address either pain or depression, making this comorbidity disorder a heavy burden on patients and society.

In ancient times, this depression-pain comorbidity was treated using extracts of the Cannabis sativa plant, known now as marijuana and the mode of action of Δ9‑tetrahydrocannabinol, the active cannabinoid ingredient of marijuana, has only recently become known, with the identification of cannabinoidreceptor type 1 (CB1) and CB2.

Subsequent investigations led to the identification of endocannabinoids, anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, which exert cannabinomimetic effects through the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are located on presynaptic membranes in the central nervous system and in peripheral tissues, respectively.

These endocannabinoids are produced from membrane lipids and are lipohilic molecules that are synthesized on demand and are eliminated rapidly after their usage by hydrolyzing enzymes.

Clinical studies revealed altered endocannabinoid signaling in patients with chronic pain.

Considerable evidence suggested the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in eliciting potent effects on neurotransmission, neuroendocrine, and inflammatory processes, which are known to be deranged in depression and chronic pain.

Several synthetic cannabinomimetic drugs are being developed to treat pain and depression. However, the precise mode of action of endocannabinoids on different targets in the body and whether their effects on pain and depression follow the same or different pathways, remains to be determined.”


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Peripherally selective cannabinoid 1 receptor (CB1R) agonists for the treatment of neuropathic pain

 Journal of Medicinal Chemistry

“Alleviation of neuropathic pain by cannabinoids is limited by their central nervous system (CNS) side effects. Indole and indene compounds were engineered for high hCB1R affinity, peripheral selectivity, metabolic stability, and in vivo efficacy. An epithelial cell line assay identified candidates with <1% blood-brain barrier penetration for testing in a rat neuropathy induced by unilateral sciatic nerve entrapment (SNE). The SNE-induced mechanical allodynia was reversibly suppressed, partially or completely, after intraperitoneal or oral administration of several indenes. At doses that relieve neuropathy symptoms, the indenes completely lacked, while the brain-permeant CB1R agonist HU-210 (1) exhibited strong CNS side effects, in catalepsy, hypothermia, and motor incoordination assays. Pharmacokinetic findings of ~0.001 cerebrospinal fluid:plasma ratio further supported limited CNS penetration. Pretreatment with selective CB1R or CB2R blockers suggested mainly CB1R contribution to an indene’s anti-allodynic effects. Therefore, this class of CB1R agonists holds promise as a viable treatment for neuropathic pain.”


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Bladder cancer found to be 45% lower in Cannabis users – NCI

National Cancer Institute

“Cannabis has been shown to kill cancer cells in the laboratory” http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq

“A review of bladder cancer rates in Cannabis users and non-users was done in over 84,000 men who took part in the California Men’s Health Study. Over 16 years of follow-up and adjusting for age, race/ethnic group and body mass index (BMI), rates of bladder cancer were found to be 45% lower in Cannabis users than in men who did not report Cannabis use.” http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/cannabis-pdq#section/_3

“Association Between Cannabis Use and the Risk of Bladder Cancer: Results From the California Men’s Health Study.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25623697

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Cannabinoid WIN-55,212-2 mesylate inhibits interleukin-1β induced matrix metalloproteinase and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase expression in human chondrocytes

Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Home

“Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is involved in the up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) leading to cartilage degradation.

Cannabinoids are anti-inflammatory and reduce joint damage in animal models of arthritis.

This study aimed to determine a mechanism whereby the synthetic cannabinoid WIN-55,212-2 mesylate (WIN-55) may inhibit cartilage degradation.

Cannabinoid WIN-55 can reduce both basal and IL-1β stimulated gene and protein expression of MMP-3 and -13. However WIN-55 also decreased basal levels of TIMP-1 and -2 mRNA.

These actions of WIN-55 suggest a mechanism by which cannabinoids may act to prevent cartilage breakdown in arthritis.”


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Expression of Cannabinoid Receptors in Human Osteoarthritic Cartilage: Implications for Future Therapies

“Cannabinoids have shown to reduce joint damage in animal models of arthritis and reduce matrix metalloproteinase expression in primary human osteoarthritic (OA) chondrocytes.

Chondrocytes from OA joints were shown to express a wide range of cannabinoid receptors even in degenerate tissues, demonstrating that these cells could respond to cannabinoids.

Cannabinoids designed to bind to receptors inhibiting the catabolic and pain pathways within the arthritic joint, while avoiding psychoactive effects, could provide potential arthritis therapies.

Cannabinoids were originally derived from the cannabis plant, Cannabis sativa, which has been used medicinally and recreationally for many years because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and psychoactive properties.”


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Endocannabinoids: new targets for drug development.

“The possible therapeutic use of marijuana s active principles, the cannabinoids, is currently being debated.

It is now known that these substances exert several of their pharmacological actions by activating specific cell membrane receptors, the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptor subtypes.

This knowledge led to the design of synthetic cannabinoid agonists and antagonists with high therapeutic potential.

The recent discovery of the endocannabinoids, i.e. endogenous metabolites capable of activating the cannabinoid receptors, and the understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to their biosynthesis and inactivation, opened a new era in research on the pharmaceutical applications of cannabinoids.

Ongoing studies on the pathological and physiological conditions regulating the tissue levels of endocannabinoids, and on the pharmacological activity of these compounds and their derivatives, may provide a lead for the development of new drugs for the treatment of nervous and immune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, pain, inflammation and cancer.

These studies are reviewed in this article with special emphasis on the chemical features that determine the interaction of endocannabinoids with the proteins mediating their activity and degradation.”


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Cannabinoids biology: the search for new therapeutic targets.

“Cannabinoids, in the form of marijuana plant extracts, have been used for thousands of years for a wide variety of medical conditions, ranging from general malaise and mood disorders to more specific ailments, such as pain, nausea, and muscle spasms.

The discovery of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active principal in marijuana, and the identification and cloning of two cannabinoid receptors (i.e., CB1 and CB2) has subsequently led to biomedical appreciation for a family of endocannabinoid lipid transmitters.

The biosynthesis and catabolism of the endocannabinoids and growing knowledge of their broad physiological roles are providing insight into potentially novel therapeutic targets.

Compounds directed at one or more of these targets may allow for cannabinoid-based therapeutics with limited side effects and abuse liability.”


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Cannabinoid system in the skin – a possible target for future therapies in dermatology.

“Cannabinoids and their derivatives are group of more than 60 biologically active chemical agents, which have been used in natural medicine for centuries.

The major agent of exogenous cannabinoids is Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), natural psychoactive ingredient of marijuana.

Recent discoveries of endogenous cannabinoids (e.g. arachidonoylethanolamide, 2-arachidonoylglycerol or palmithyloethanolamide) and their receptors initiated discussion on the role of cannabinoid system in physiological conditions as well as in various diseases.

Based on the current knowledge, it could be stated that cannabinoids are important mediators in the skin, however their role have not been well elucidated yet.

In our review, we summarized the current knowledge about the significant role of the cannabinoid system in the cutaneous physiology and pathology, pointing out possible future therapeutic targets.”


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Preparation and characterization of Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol-loaded biodegradable polymeric microparticles and their antitumoral efficacy on cancer cell lines.

“Cannabinoids present an interesting therapeutic potential as antiemetics, appetite stimulants in debilitating diseases (cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis), analgesics, and in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and cancer, among other conditions.

However, despite their high clinical potential, only few dosage forms are available to date.

In this paper, the development of Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) biodegradable microspheres as an alternative delivery system for cannabinoid parenteral administration is proposed.

As THC has shown therapeutic potential as anticancer drug, the efficacy of the microspheres was tested on different cancer cell lines.

Interestingly, the microspheres were able to inhibit cancer cell proliferation during the nine-day study period.

All the above results suggest that the use of biodegradable microspheres would be a suitable alternative delivery system for THC administration.”


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