The Endocannabinoid System: A Potential Target for the Treatment of Various Diseases

ijms-logo“The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) is primarily responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a balance in internal environment (temperature, mood, and immune system) and energy input and output in living, biological systems.

In addition to regulating physiological processes, the ECS directly influences anxiety, feeding behaviour/appetite, emotional behaviour, depression, nervous functions, neurogenesis, neuroprotection, reward, cognition, learning, memory, pain sensation, fertility, pregnancy, and pre-and post-natal development.

The ECS is also involved in several pathophysiological diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. In recent years, genetic and pharmacological manipulation of the ECS has gained significant interest in medicine, research, and drug discovery and development.

The distribution of the components of the ECS system throughout the body, and the physiological/pathophysiological role of the ECS-signalling pathways in many diseases, all offer promising opportunities for the development of novel cannabinergic, cannabimimetic, and cannabinoid-based therapeutic drugs that genetically or pharmacologically modulate the ECS via inhibition of metabolic pathways and/or agonism or antagonism of the receptors of the ECS. This modulation results in the differential expression/activity of the components of the ECS that may be beneficial in the treatment of a number of diseases.

This manuscript in-depth review will investigate the potential of the ECS in the treatment of various diseases, and to put forth the suggestion that many of these secondary metabolites of Cannabis sativa L. (hereafter referred to as “C. sativa L.” or “medical cannabis”), may also have potential as lead compounds in the development of cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals for a variety of diseases.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34502379/

https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/22/17/9472

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Cannabidiol Loaded Extracellular Vesicles Sensitize Triple-Negative Breast Cancer to Doxorubicin in both in-vitro and in vivo Models Running Title: Formulation and anti-cancer potential of CBD loaded hUCMSC-derived Extracellular Vesicles in TNBC

International Journal of Pharmaceutics“Extracellular Vesicles (EVs) were isolated from human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs) and were further encapsulated with cannabidiol (CBD) through sonication method (CBD EVs). CBD EVs displayed an average particle size of 114.1±1.02 nm, zeta potential of -30.26±0.12 mV, entrapment efficiency of 92.3±2.21% and stability for several months at 4 °C. CBD release from the EVs was observed as 50.74±2.44% and 53.99±1.4% at pH 6.8 and pH 7.4, respectively after 48 h. Ourin-vitrostudies demonstrated that CBD either alone or in EVs form significantly sensitized MDA-MB-231 cells to doxorubicin (DOX) (*P<0.05). Flow cytometry and migration studies revealed that CBD EVs either alone or in combination with DOX induced G1 phase cell cycle arrest and decreased migration of MDA-MB-231 cells, respectively. CBD EVs and DOX combination significantly reduced tumor burden (***P<0.001) in MDA-MB-231 xenograft tumor model. Western blotting and immunocytochemical analysis demonstrated that CBD EVs and DOX combination decreased the expression of proteins involved in inflammation, metastasis and increased the expression of proteins involved in apoptosis. CBD EVs and DOX combination will have profound clinical significance in not only decreasing the side effects but also increasing the therapeutic efficacy of DOX in TNBC.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34324983/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378517321007493?via%3Dihub

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Cancer Initiation, Progression and Resistance: Are Phytocannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L. Promising Compounds?

molecules-logo“Cannabis sativa L. is a source of over 150 active compounds known as phytocannabinoids that are receiving renewed interest due to their diverse pharmacologic activities. Indeed, phytocannabinoids mimic the endogenous bioactive endocannabinoids effects through activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors widely described in the central nervous system and peripheral tissues.

All phytocannabinoids have been studied for their protective actions towards different biological mechanisms, including inflammation, immune response, oxidative stress that, altogether, result in an inhibitory activity against the carcinogenesis.

The role of the endocannabinoid system is not yet completely clear in cancer, but several studies indicate that cannabinoid receptors and endogenous ligands are overexpressed in different tumor tissues.

Recently, in vitro and in vivo evidence support the effectiveness of phytocannabinoids against various cancer types, in terms of proliferation, metastasis, and angiogenesis, actions partially due to their ability to regulate signaling pathways critical for cell growth and survival.

The aim of this review was to report the current knowledge about the action of phytocannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L. against cancer initiation and progression with a specific regard to brain, breast, colorectal, and lung cancer as well as their possible use in the therapies. We will also report the known molecular mechanisms responsible for such positive effects.

Finally, we will describe the actual therapeutic options for Cannabis sativa L. and the ongoing clinical trials.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34063214/

https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/26/9/2668

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Unveiling the mechanism of action behind the anti-cancer properties of cannabinoids in ER + breast cancer cells: impact on aromatase and steroid receptors

The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology“Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in women worldwide. In the last years, cannabinoids have gained attention in the clinical setting and clinical trials with cannabinoid-based preparations are underway. However, contradictory anti-tumour properties have also been reported. Thus, the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms behind their anti-tumour efficacy is crucial to better understand its therapeutic potential.

Considering this, our work aims to clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-cancer properties of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) and of the phytocannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer cells that overexpress aromatase (MCF-7aro). Their in vitro effects on cell proliferation, cell death and activity/expression of aromatase, ERα, ERβ and AR were investigated.

Our results demonstrated that cannabinoids disrupted MCF-7aro cell cycle progression. Unlike AEA and THC that induced apoptosis, CBD triggered autophagy to promote apoptotic cell death. Interestingly, all cannabinoids reduced aromatase and ERα expression levels in cells. On the other hand, AEA and CBD not only exhibited high anti-aromatase activity but also induced up-regulation of ERβ. Therefore, all cannabinoids, albeit by different actions, target aromatase and ERs, impairing, in that way, the growth of ER+ breast cancer cells, which is dependent on estrogen signalling.

As aromatase and ERs are key targets for ER+ breast cancer treatment, cannabinoids can be considered as potential and attractive therapeutic compounds for this type of cancer, being CBD the most promising one. Thus, from an in vitro perspective, this work may contribute to the growing mass of evidence of cannabinoids and cannabinoids-based medicines as potential anti-cancer drugs.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33722705/

“AEA and THC induce apoptosis in ER+ breast cancer cells, while CBD trigger autophagy to promote apoptosis. AEATHC and CBD impair growth of ER+ breast cancer cells, by disrupting cycle progression. AEATHC and CBD affect aromatase and ERα expression levels in ER+ breast cancer cells. AEA and CBD strongly inhibited aromatase activity and up-regulated ERβ levels. Cannabinoids are considered potential therapeutic compounds for ER+ breast cancer, being CBD the most promising one.”

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960076021000698?via%3Dihub

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CBD activation of TRPV1 induces oxidative signalling and subsequent ER stress in breast cancer cell lines

“Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress is an imbalance between the ER’s protein-folding load and capacity. It can be induced by various physiological conditions, activating the unfolded protein response to re-establish homeostasis, promoting cell survival. Under severe or chronic stress, apoptosis is induced. Normal cells generally do not experience continuous ER stress induction. The stressful conditions experienced in the tumour microenvironment facilitates chronic ER stress and UPR activation, which plays a pivotal role in tumour survival.

Exacerbation of pre-existing ER stress can trigger cancer cell death, with a minimal effect on normal cells.

Current literature suggests that cannabinoid treatment may induce cancer cell death via ER stress; however, little is known about the mechanisms of induction.

This study proposed that cannabidiol (CBD) mechanism that occurred through the influx of Ca2+ via the TRPV1 receptor, and increasing ROS production affects protein folding and induces ER stress. ER stress was induced, and detection and quantification were completed using Thioflavin T staining and GRP78 by western blot analysis. The effect of cannabinoid treatment on ROS production and Ca2+ influx was measured. CBD was the most potent ER stress inducer, significantly increasing Ca2+ and ROS accumulation. Concomitant treatment with CBD and an antioxidant significantly increased cell viability and decreased ER stress induction in the MCF7 cell line. Concomitant treatment with a TRPV1 antagonist increased viability in this cell line.

In conclusion, the data suggested that CBD induced ER stress via Ca2+ influx through the TRPV1 receptor, thereby elevating intracellular ROS levels and disrupting protein folding.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33604949/

https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bab.2119

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Induced Fit Docking and Automated QSAR Studies Reveal the ER-α Inhibitory Activity of Cannabis sativa in Breast Cancer

Background: Breast Cancer (BC), a common death-causing disease and the deadliest cancer next to lung cancer, is characterized by an abnormal growth of cells in the tissues of the breast. BC chemotherapy is marked by targeting the activities of some receptors such as Estrogen Receptor alpha (ER-α). At present, one of the most commonly used and approved marketed therapeutic drug for BC is tamoxifen. Despite the short term success of tamoxifen usage, its long time treatment has been associated with significant side effects. Therefore, there is a pressing need for the development of novel anti-estrogens for the prevention and treatment of BC.

Objective: In this study, we evaluate the inhibitory effect of Cannabis Sativa phyto-constituents on ER-α.

Method: Glide and Induced Fit Docking followed by ADME, Automated QSAR and Binding free energy (ΔGbind) studies were used to evaluate the anti-breast cancer and ER-α inhibitory activity of Cannabis sativa, which has been reported to be effective in inhibiting breast cancer cell proliferation.

Results: Phyto-constituents of Cannabis sativa possess lower docking scores and good ΔGbind when compared to that of tamoxifen. ADME and AutoQSAR studies revealed that our lead compounds demonstrated the properties required to make them promising therapeutic agents.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that Naringenin, Dihydroresveratrol, Baicalein, Apigenin and Cannabitriol could have relatively better inhibitory activity than tamoxifen and could be a better and patent therapeutic candidate in the treatment of BC. Further research such as in vivo and/or in vitro assays could be conducted to attest the ability of these compounds.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33563181/

https://www.eurekaselect.com/190950/article

 

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Cannabis and its Constituents for Cancer: History, Biogenesis, Chemistry and Pharmacological Activities

Pharmacological Research “Cannabis has long been used for healing and recreation in several regions of the world. Over 400 bioactive constituents, including more than 100 phytocannabinoids, have been isolated from this plant. The non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and the psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) are the major and widely studied constituents from this plant.

Cannabinoids exert their effects through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) that comprises cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2), endogenous ligands, and metabolizing enzymes. Several preclinical studies have demonstrated the potential of cannabinoids against leukemia, lymphoma, glioblastoma, and cancers of the breast, colorectum, pancreas, cervix and prostate.

Cannabis and its constituents can modulate multiple cancer related pathways such as PKB, AMPK, CAMKK-β, mTOR, PDHK, HIF-1α, and PPAR-γ. Cannabinoids can block cell growth, progression of cell cycle and induce apoptosis selectively in tumour cells. Cannabinoids can also enhance the efficacy of cancer therapeutics. These compounds have been used for the management of anorexia, queasiness, and pain in cancer patients.

Cannabinoid based products such as dronabinol, nabilone, nabiximols, and epidyolex are now approved for medical use in cancer patients. Cannabinoids are reported to produce a favourable safety profile. However, psychoactive properties and poor bioavailability limit the use of some cannabinoids. The Academic Institutions across the globe are offering training courses on cannabis. How cannabis and its constituents exert anticancer activities is discussed in this article. We also discuss areas that require attention and more extensive research.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33246167/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1043661820316108?via%3Dihub

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Cannabinoid Combination Induces Cytoplasmic Vacuolation in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells

molecules-logo“This study evaluated the synergistic anti-cancer potential of cannabinoid combinations across the MDA-MB-231 and MCF-7 human breast cancer cell lines. Cannabinoids were combined and their synergistic interactions were evaluated using median effect analysis.

The most promising cannabinoid combination (C6) consisted of tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabidiol (CBD), and displayed favorable dose reduction indices and limited cytotoxicity against the non-cancerous breast cell line, MCF-10A. C6 exerted its effects in the MCF-7 cell line by inducing cell cycle arrest in the G2 phase, followed by the induction of apoptosis.

Morphological observations indicated the induction of cytoplasmic vacuolation, with further investigation suggesting that the vacuole membrane was derived from the endoplasmic reticulum. In addition, lipid accumulation, increased lysosome size, and significant increases in the endoplasmic reticulum chaperone protein glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) expression were also observed.

The selectivity and ability of cannabinoids to halt cancer cell proliferation via pathways resembling apoptosis, autophagy, and paraptosis shows promise for cannabinoid use in standardized breast cancer treatment.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33066359/

https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/25/20/4682

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Education and communication are critical to effectively incorporating cannabis into cancer treatment

“Providers need to be better equipped to discuss medical cannabis with patients even if they are not willing to prescribe it. The oncology community would be well served to ensure that providers are aware of existing cannabis research and are able to incorporate it into their communications with patients instead of leaving patients to figure out medical cannabis on their own.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32986251/

https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.33204

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Cancer patients’ experiences with medicinal cannabis-related care

 “Background: Little is known about medical cannabis (MC)-related care for patients with cancer using MC.

Methods: Semistructured telephone interviews were conducted in a convenience sample of individuals (n = 24) with physician-confirmed oncologic diagnoses and state/district authorization to use MC (Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, and Washington, DC) from April 2017 to March 2019. Standard qualitative techniques were used to assess the degree of MC-related health care oversight, MC practices, and key information sources.

Results: Among 24 participants (median age, 57 years; range, 30-71 years; 16 women [67%]), MC certifications were typically issued by a professional new to a patient’s care after a brief, perfunctory consultation. Patients disclosed MCuse to their established medical teams but received little medical advice about whether and how to use MC. Patients with cancer used MC products as multipurpose symptom management and as cancer-directed therapy, sometimes in lieu of standard-of-care treatments. Personal experimentation, including methodical self-monitoring, was an important source of MC know-how. Absent formal advice from medical professionals, patients relied on nonmedical sources for MC information.

Conclusions: Patients with cancer used MC with minimal medical oversight. Most received MC certifications through brief meetings with unfamiliar professionals. Participants desired but were often unable to access high-quality clinical information about MC from their established medical teams. Because many patients are committed to using MC, a product sustained by a growing industry, medical providers should familiarize themselves with the existing data for MM and its limitations to address a poorly met clinical need.”

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32986266/

“Notably, oncology patients reported using medical cannabis (MC) for symptom management and as cancer‐directed therapy, sometimes instead of traditional treatments.”

https://acsjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.33202

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