Mechanisms Involved in the Therapeutic Effect of Cannabinoid Compounds on Gliomas: A Review with Experimental Approach

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“Introduction: Brain tumors have high morbidity and mortality rates, accounting for 1.4% of all cancers. Gliomas are the most common primary brain tumors in adults. Currently, several thera-peutic approaches are used; however, they are associated with side effects that affect pa-tients’quality of life. Therefore, further studies are needed to develop novel therapeutic protocols with a more favorable side effect profile. In this context, cannabinoid compounds may serve as potential alternatives.

Objective: This study aimed to review the key enzymatic targets involved in glioma pathophysi-ology and evaluate the potential interaction of these targets with four cannabinoid derivatives through molecular docking simulations.

Methods: Molecular docking simulations were performed using four cannabinoid compounds and six molecular targets associated with glioma pathophysiology.

Results: Encouraging interactions between the selected enzymes and glioma-related targets were observed, suggesting their potential activity through these pathways. In particular, cannabigerol showed promising interactions with epidermal growth factor receptors and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, while Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol showed remarkable interactions with telomerase reverse transcriptase.

Conclusion: The evaluated compounds exhibited favorable interactions with the analyzed enzy-matic targets, thus representing potential candidates for further in vitro and in vivo studies.”

Etoricoxib-Cannabidiol Combo: Potential Role in Glioblastoma Treatment and Development of PLGA-Based Nanoparticles

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“Background: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most frequently occurring primary malignant central nervous system tumor, with a poor prognosis and median survival below two years. Administration of a combination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and natural compounds that exhibit a curative or prophylactic effect in cancer is a new approach to GBM treatment. This study aimed to investigate the synergistic antitumor activity of etoricoxib (ETO) and cannabidiol (CBD) in a GBM cell line model, and to develop poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA)-based nanoparticles (NPs) for these two substances.

Methods: The activity of ETO+CBD was determined using the MTT test, cell-cycle distribution assay, and apoptosis analysis using two GBM cell lines, namely, T98G and U-138 MG. The PLGA-based NPs were developed using the emulsification and solvent evaporation method. Their physicochemical properties, such as shape, size, entrapment efficiency (EE%), in vitro drug release, and quality attributes, were determined using scanning electron microscopy, diffraction light scattering, high-performance liquid chromatography, infrared spectroscopy, and differential scanning calorimetry.

Results: The combination of ETO and CBD reduced the viability of cells in a dose-dependent manner and induced apoptosis in both tested GBM cell lines. The developed method allowed for the preparation of ETO+CBD-NPs with a spherical shape, mean particle size (MPS) below 400 nm, zeta potential (ZP) values from -11 to -17.4 mV, polydispersity index (PDI) values in the range from 0.029 to 0.256, and sufficient EE% of both drugs (78.43% for CBD, 10.94% for ETO).

Conclusions: The combination of ETO and CBD is a promising adjuvant therapeutic in the treatment of GBM, and the prepared ETO+CBD-NPs exhibit a high potential for further pharmaceutical formulation development.”

Therapeutic targeting of the tumor microenvironments with cannabinoids and their analogs: Update on clinical trials

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“Cancer is a major global public health concern that affects both industrialized and developing nations. Current cancer chemotherapeutic options are limited by side effects, but plant-derived alternatives and their derivatives offer the possibilities of enhanced treatment response and reduced side effects.

A plethora of recently published articles have focused on treatments based on cannabinoids and cannabinoid analogs and reported that they positively affect healthy cell growth and reverse cancer-related abnormalities by targeting aberrant tumor microenvironments (TMEs), lowering tumorigenesis, preventing metastasis, and/or boosting the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Furthermore, TME modulating systems are receiving much interest in the cancer immunotherapy field because it has been shown that TMEs have significant impacts on tumor progression, angiogenesis, invasion, migration, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, metastasis and development of drug resistance.

Here, we have reviewed the effective role of cannabinoids, their analogs and cannabinoid nano formulations on the cellular components of TME (endothelial cells, pericytes, fibroblast and immune cells) and how efficiently it retards the progression of carcinogenesis is discussed. The article summarizes the existing research on the molecular mechanisms of cannabinoids regulation of the TME and finally highlights the human studies on cannabinoids’ active interventional clinical trials.

The conclusion outlines the need for future research involving clinical trials of cannabinoids to demonstrate their efficacy and activity as a treatment/prevention for various types of human malignancies.”

Endocannabinoids are potential inhibitors of glioblastoma multiforme proliferation

Journal of Integrative Medicine

“Globally, it is evident that glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is an aggressive malignant cancer with a high mortality rate and no effective treatment options. Glioblastoma is classified as the stage-four progression of a glioma tumor, and its diagnosis results in a shortened life expectancy. Treatment options for GBM include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgical intervention, and conventional pharmacotherapy; however, at best, they extend the patient’s life by a maximum of 5 years. GBMs are considered incurable due to their high recurrence rate, despite various aggressive therapeutic approaches which can have many serious adverse effects.

Ceramides, classified as endocannabinoids, offer a promising novel therapeutic approach for GBM. Endocannabinoids may enhance the apoptosis of GBM cells but have no effect on normal healthy neural cells. Cannabinoids promote atypical protein kinase C, deactivate fatty acid amide hydrolase enzymes, and activate transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) and TRPV2 to induce pro-apoptotic signaling pathways without increasing endogenous cannabinoids. In previous in vivo studies, endocannabinoids, chemically classified as amide formations of oleic and palmitic acids, have been shown to increase the pro-apoptotic activity of human cancer cells and inhibit cell migration and angiogenesis.

This review focuses on the biological synthesis and pharmacology of endogenous cannabinoids for the enhancement of cancer cell apoptosis, which have potential as a novel therapy for GBM.”

“As discussed above, endocannabinoids could prove to be a viable alternative treatment for GBM.”

Therapeutic and Supportive Effects of Cannabinoids in Patients with Brain Tumors (CBD Oil and Cannabis)


“The potential medicinal properties of Cannabis continue to garner attention, especially in the brain tumor domain. This attention is centered on quality of life and symptom management; however, it is amplified by a significant lack of therapeutic choices for this specific patient population.

While the literature on this matter is young, published and anecdotal evidence imply that cannabis could be useful in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, stimulating appetite, reducing pain, and managing seizures. It may also decrease inflammation and cancer cell proliferation and survival, resulting in a benefit in overall patient survival.

Current literature poses the challenge that it does not provide standardized guidance on dosing for the above potential indications and cannabis use is dominated by recreational purposes. Furthermore, integrated and longitudinal studies are needed but these are a challenge due to arcane laws surrounding the legality of such substances. The increasing need for evidence-based arguments about potential harms and benefits of cannabis, not only in cancer patients but for other medical use and recreational purposes, is desperately needed.”

In Silico Binding Analysis of Cannabinoids with Eph Receptors for Therapeutic Use in Gliomas

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“Background: Accumulating evidence suggests overexpression of Eph receptors is associated with malignant human gliomas. Inhibiting interactions of Eph receptors with their ephrin ligands may improve clinical outcomes in glioma patients. The present study investigated the potential of cannabinoids to bind Eph receptors and block Eph/ephrin interactions.

Methods: Twelve major cannabinoids were computationally docked with ligand binding domains from six glioma-associated Eph receptors through Auto Dock Vina to measure their potential binding affinities. The molecular structures and residue interactions of the most favorable poses for each receptor binding domain were further visually examined.

Results: Cannabichromene (CBC) exhibited the most favorable binding with EphA2, EphA3, and EphB4 receptor ligand binding domains while tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was predicted to bind favorably with EphB2 and EphB3 receptor ligand binding domains. EphA4 showed the best potential binding affinity with cannabidivarin (CBDV). Further analysis revealed that these cannabinoids bind to specific locations on Eph receptors required for Eph/ephrin interactions.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that certain cannabinoids can effectively bind to hydrophobic pockets required for ephrin binding and thereby be used to block subsequent Eph/ephrin interactions.”

Role of Cannabidiol for Improvement of the Quality of Life in Cancer Patients: Potential and Challenges


“There is currently a growing interest in the use of cannabidiol (CBD) to alleviate the symptoms caused by cancer, including pain, sleep disruption, and anxiety. CBD is often self-administered as an over-the-counter supplement, and patients have reported benefits from its use. However, despite the progress made, the mechanisms underlying CBD’s anti-cancer activity remain divergent and unclear. Herein, we provide a comprehensive review of molecular mechanisms to determine convergent anti-cancer actions of CBD from pre-clinical and clinical studies. In vitro studies have begun to elucidate the molecular targets of CBD and provide evidence of CBD’s anti-tumor properties in cell and mouse models of cancer. Furthermore, several clinical trials have been completed testing CBD’s efficacy in treating cancer-related pain. However, most use a mixture of CBD and the psychoactive, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and/or use variable dosing that is not consistent between individual patients. Despite these limitations, significant reductions in pain and opioid use have been reported in cancer patients using CBD or CBD+THC. Additionally, significant improvements in quality-of-life measures and patients’ overall satisfaction with their treatment have been reported. Thus, there is growing evidence suggesting that CBD might be useful to improve the overall quality of life of cancer patients by both alleviating cancer symptoms and by synergizing with cancer therapies to improve their efficacy. However, many questions remain unanswered regarding the use of CBD in cancer treatment, including the optimal dose, effective combinations with other drugs, and which biomarkers/clinical presentation of symptoms may guide its use.”

“CBD has great potential to improve the lives of cancer patients both by alleviating the symptoms of pain, sleep disturbance, and anxiety, but also by synergistic activity with anti-cancer treatments to reverse or eliminate the growth of tumors causing these symptoms. Pre-clinical evidence in cell and mouse models supports the use of CBD as an anti-cancer therapy; however, clinical knowledge is currently lacking in this area. The effectiveness of CBD has been demonstrated in models of lung, breast, and colon cancer, as well as leukemia and glioblastoma. CBD has been shown to be toxic to cancer cells in vitro, and it is also generally well tolerated in the clinic.”

The Combination of Δ 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol Suppresses Mitochondrial Respiration of Human Glioblastoma Cells via Downregulation of Specific Respiratory Chain Proteins


“Phytocannabinoids represent a promising approach in glioblastoma therapy.

Previous work has shown that a combined treatment of glioblastoma cells with submaximal effective concentrations of psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) greatly increases cell death.

In the present work, the glioblastoma cell lines U251MG and U138MG were used to investigate whether the combination of THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio is associated with a disruption of cellular energy metabolism, and whether this is caused by affecting mitochondrial respiration.

Here, the combined administration of THC and CBD (2.5 µM each) led to an inhibition of oxygen consumption rate and energy metabolism. These effects were accompanied by morphological changes to the mitochondria, a release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into the cytosol and a marked reduction in subunits of electron transport chain complexes I (NDUFA9, NDUFB8) and IV (COX2, COX4). Experiments with receptor antagonists and inhibitors showed that the degradation of NDUFA9 occurred independently of the activation of the cannabinoid receptors CB1, CB2 and TRPV1 and of usual degradation processes mediated via autophagy or the proteasomal system.

In summary, the results describe a previously unknown mitochondria-targeting mechanism behind the toxic effect of THC and CBD on glioblastoma cells that should be considered in future cancer therapy, especially in combination strategies with other chemotherapeutics.”

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid from Cannabis sativa L. that exhibits no psychoactivity and, like the psychoactive cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), shows anticancer effects in preclinical cell and animal models. Previous studies have indicated a stronger cancer-targeting effect when THC and CBD are combined. Here, we investigated how the combination of THC and CBD in a 1:1 ratio affects glioblastoma cell survival. The compounds were found to synergistically enhance cell death, which was attributed to mitochondrial damage and disruption of energy metabolism. A detailed look at the mitochondrial electron transfer chain showed that THC/CBD selectively decreased certain subunits of complexes I and IV. These data highlight the fundamental changes in cellular energy metabolism when cancer cells are exposed to a mixture of cannabinoids and underscore the potential of combining cannabinoids in cancer treatment.”

The Effectiveness and Safety of Medical Cannabis for Treating Cancer Related Symptoms in Oncology Patients

Frontiers in Pain Research (@FrontPain) / Twitter

“The use of medical cannabis (MC) to treat cancer-related symptoms is rising. However, there is a lack of long-term trials to assess the benefits and safety of MC treatment in this population. In this work, we followed up prospectively and longitudinally on the effectiveness and safety of MC treatment.

Oncology patients reported on multiple symptoms before and after MC treatment initiation at one-, three-, and 6-month follow-ups. Oncologists reported on the patients’ disease characteristics. Intention-to-treat models were used to assess changes in outcomes from baseline. MC treatment was initiated by 324 patients and 212, 158 and 126 reported at follow-ups.

Most outcome measures improved significantly during MC treatment for most patients (p < 0.005). Specifically, at 6 months, total cancer symptoms burden declined from baseline by a median of 18%, from 122 (82–157) at baseline to 89 (45–138) at endpoint (−18.98; 95%CI= −26.95 to −11.00; p < 0.001). Reported adverse effects were common but mostly non-serious and remained stable during MC treatment.

The results of this study suggest that MC treatment is generally safe for oncology patients and can potentially reduce the burden of associated symptoms with no serious MC-related adverse effects.

The main finding of the current study is that most cancer comorbid symptoms improved significantly during 6 months of MC treatment.

Additionally, we found that MC treatment in cancer patients was well tolerated and safe.”

“Cancer Pain Treatment Using Marijuana Safe and Effective, Large Study Finds”

Cannabinol inhibits proliferation and induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in glioblastoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and breast cancer cells

“Cannabis sativa is an agriculturally and medicinally important plant with many pharmaceutical properties. Cancer is a deadly disease; it is estimated that it will cause over 80 thousand deaths in 2019 in Canada.

Although numerous studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids have anti-tumorous properties in various cancers, the anti-malignant activities of cannabinol (CBN) on carcinogenesis and underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown.

In this study, we provide evidence that CBN inhibits proliferation of A172, HB8065 and HCC1806 cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. CBN regulates expression of cannabinoid receptors, CB2, GPR55 and GPR18 in different cell lines, while reducing levels of phosphorylated ERK1/2 in HCC1806 and phosphorylated AKT in A172 and HB8065 cells.

We find that CBN induces apoptosis through downregulation of p21 and p27 and a G1 or S-phase cell cycle arrest through a dose-dependent downregulation of cyclin E1, CDK1 and CDK2.

These data support the medicinal potential of CBN in anti-cancer therapy.”