Cancer-Cachexia-Induced Human Skeletal Muscle Myotube Degeneration Is Prevented via Cannabinoid Receptor 2 Agonism In Vitro

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“Cachexia syndrome, leading to reduced skeletal muscle and fat mass, is highly prevalent in cancer patients, resulting in further negative implications for these patients. To date, there is no approved therapy for cachexia syndrome. The objective of this study was to establish an in vitro model of cancer cachexia in mature human skeletal muscle myotubes, with the intention of exploiting the cell model to assess potential cachexia therapeutics, specifically cannabinoid related drugs. Having cultured and differentiated primary human muscle myoblasts to mature myotubes, we successfully established two cancer cachexia models using conditioned media (CM) from human colon adenocarcinoma (SW480) and from non-small-cell lung carcinoma (H1299) cultured cells. The cancer-CM-induced extensive myotube degeneration, demonstrated by a significant reduction in mature myotube diameter, which progressed over the period studied. Myotube degeneration is a characteristic feature of cancer cachexia and was used in this study as an index of cachexia. Expression of cannabinoid 1 and 2 receptors (CB1R and CB2R) was confirmed in the mature human skeletal muscle myotubes. Subsequently, the effect of cannabinoid compounds on this myotube degeneration were assessed.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a partial CB1R/CB2R agonist, and JWH133, a selective CB2R agonist, proved efficacious in protecting mature human myotubes from the deleterious effects of both (SW480 and H1299) cancer cachexia conditions.

ART27.13, a full, peripherally selective CB1R/CB2R agonist, currently being trialled in cancer cachexia (IRAS ID 278450, REC 20/NE/0198), was also significantly protective against myotube degeneration in both (SW480 and H1299) cancer cachexia conditions. Furthermore, the addition of the CB2R antagonist AM630, but not the CB1R antagonist Rimonabant, abolished the protective effect of ART27.13. In short, we have established a convenient and robust in vitro model of cancer-induced human skeletal muscle cachexia. The data obtained using the model demonstrate the therapeutic potential of ART27.13 in cancer-induced cachexia prevention and provides evidence indicating that this effect is via CB2R, and not CB1R.”

“Several cannabinoid drugs have emerged as potential therapeutics for various conditions.”

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