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.”

Anticancer activity of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in vitro and in human lung cancer xenograft

Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine

“Objective: To investigate the effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the principal psychoactive compound of Cannabis sativa, and cannabinol, a Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol degradative product, on human non-small cell lung cancer cells.
Methods: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol were tested for anticancer activity in human non-small cell lung cancer (A549) cells. The effects on cell proliferation, apoptosis, and phosphorylation profiles were examined. The effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol on tumor growth were also investigated using a xenograft nude mouse model. Apoptosis and targeted phosphorylation were verified by immunohistochemistry.
Results: Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol significantly inhibited cell proliferation and increased the number of apoptotic cells in a concentration-dependent manner. The Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol- and cannabinol-treated cells had lower levels of phosphorylated protein kinase B [AKT (S473)], glycogen synthase kinase 3 alpha/beta, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase compared to the controls. The study of xenograft mice revealed that tumors treated with 15 mg/kg Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol or 40 mg/kg cannabinol were significantly smaller than those of the control mice. The tumor progression rates in mice treated with 15 mg/kg Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol or 40 mg/kg cannabinol were significantly slower than in the control group.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol inhibit lung cancer cell growth by inhibiting AKT and its signaling pathways, which include glycogen synthase kinase 3 alpha/beta and endothelial nitric oxide synthase.”;year=2022;volume=12;issue=8;spage=323;epage=332;aulast=Leelawat

Cannabidiol Regulates PPARγ-Dependent Vesicle Formation as well as Cell Death in A549 Human Lung Cancer Cells


“Extracts of phytocannabinoids from Cannabis sativa have been studied for therapeutic purposes. Although nonpsychoactive CBD has been studied as a promising anticancer drug because it induces apoptosis in many cancer cells, it is also known to induce several physiological changes.

In this study, we clarify the functional role it plays in the morphological characteristics of intracellular vesicle formation as well as apoptosis in A549 human lung cancer cells.

CBD treatment shows growth inhibition at concentrations above 20 μM, but FACS analysis shows low efficacy in terms of cell death. Microscopic observations suggest that multiple vesicles were detected in the cytoplasmic region of CBD-treated A549 cells.

CBD treatment upregulates apoptosis-related proteins, such as p53, PARP, RIP1, RIP3, Atg12, and Beclin, indicating that CBD regulates several types of cell death. CBD treatment also induced E-cadherin, PPARγ, clathrin, β-adaptin, and Tsg101, also known to be cellular-differentiation inducers or vesicle-formation components.

Treatment combining CBD with GW9662, a PPARγ inhibitor, reduced CBD-induced cytoplasmic vesicle formation. This indicates that PPARγ regulates the vesicle-formation mechanism. However, CBD-treated E-cad KO clones did not show this regulatory mechanism.

These results elucidate the pharmacological and molecular networks associated with CBD in PPARγ-dependent vesicle formation and the induction of apoptosis.”

“Recently, the pharmacological efficacy of CBD has been focused on in many types of disease models. In this study, we have shown that CBD treatment upregulated cell death proteins, such as p53, PARP, RIP1, RIP3, Atg12, and Beclin. In addition, CBD treatment also induced E-cadherin, PPARγ, clathrin, β-adaptin, and Tsg101, also known to be cellular-differentiation inducers or vesicle-formation components.

We have also shown that PPARγ regulates the vesicle-formation mechanism. Therefore, not only have we confirmed cell death induction by CBD, we have also confirmed the regulation of vesicle formation by PPARγ in various cancer models.

Detailed molecuclar insights would enhance the therapeutic utilization of CBD without side effects. Cellular proliferation and death could be determined by a variety of molecular regulations in cellular networks composed of a variety of proteins. Moreover, the physiological changes in cells will be closely related to functional changes in intracellular organelles.

We suggest that an understanding of the complex intracellular network system is necessary to optimize the pharmacological efficacy of CBD. These steady research efforts will make significant progress in increasing the utilization of CBD, which has been restricted by legal regulations in some countries.”

In Vitro Effect of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol on Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts Isolated from Lung Cancer


“There is evidence that demonstrates the effect of cannabinoid agonists inhibiting relevant aspects in lung cancer, such as proliferation or epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT).

Most of these studies are based on evidence observed in in vitro models developed on cancer cell lines. These studies do not consider the complexity of the tumor microenvironment (TME). One of the main components of the TME is cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), cells that are relevant in the control of proliferation and metastasis in lung cancer.

In this work, we evaluated the direct effects of two cannabinoid agonists, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), used alone or in combination, on CAFs and non-tumor normal fibroblasts (NFs) isolated from adenocarcinoma or from healthy lung tissue from the same patients.

We observed that these compounds decrease cell density in vitro and inhibit the increase in the relative expression of type 1 collagen (COL1A1) and fibroblast-specific protein 1 (FSP1) induced by transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ). On the other hand, we studied whether THC and CBD could modulate the interactions between CAFs or NFs and cancer cells. We conditioned the culture medium with stromal cells treated or not with THC and/or CBD and cultured A549 cells with them.

We found that culture media conditioned with CAFs or NFs increased cell density, induced morphological changes consistent with EMT, inhibited cadherin-1 (CDH1) gene expression, and induced an increase in the relative expression of cadherin-2 (CDH2) and vimentin (VIM) genes in A549 cells. These changes were inhibited or decreased by THC and CBD administered alone or in combination. In another series of experiments, we conditioned culture media with A549 cells treated or not with THC and/or CBD, in the presence or absence of TGFβ. We observed that culture media conditioned with A549 in the presence of TGFβ induced an increase in the expression of COL1A1 and VIM, both in CAFs and in non-tumor NFs. Both THC and CBD ameliorated these effects.

In summary, the results presented here reinforce the usefulness of cannabinoid agonists for the treatment of some relevant aspects of lung cancer pathology, and demonstrate in a novel way their possible effects on CAFs as a result of their relationship with cancer cells. Likewise, the results reinforce the usefulness of the combined use of THC and CBD, which has important advantages in relation to the possibility of using lower doses, thus minimizing the psychoactive effects of THC.”

High-CBD Extract (CBD-X) Downregulates Cytokine Storm Systemically and Locally in Inflamed Lungs

New scientific publication in Frontiers in Immunology - Antineo

“Cytokine storm refers to the dysregulated production of inflammatory mediators leading to hyperinflammation. They are often detrimental, and worsen the severity of COVID-19 and other infectious or inflammatory diseases. Cannabinoids are known to have anti-inflammatory effects but their possible therapeutic value on cytokine storms has not been fully elucidated. In vivo and ex vivo studies were carried out to investigate the effects of high-THC and high-CBD extracts on cytokine production in immune cells. Significant differences between the extracts were observed. Subsequent experiments focusing on a specific high CBD extract (CBD-X) showed significant reductions in pro-inflammatory cytokines in human-derived PBMCs, neutrophils and T cells. In vivo mouse studies, using a systemically inflamed mouse model, showed reductions in pro-inflammatory cytokines TNFα and IL-1β and a concurrent increase in the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 in response to CBD-X extract treatment. Lung inflammation, as in severe COVID-19 disease, is characterized by increased T-cell homing to the lungs. Our investigation revealed that CBD-X extract impaired T-cell migration induced by the chemoattractant SDF1. In addition, the phosphorylation levels of T cell receptor (TCR) signaling proteins Lck and Zap70 were significantly reduced, demonstrating an inhibitory effect on the early events downstream to TCR activation. In a lung inflamed mouse model, we observed a reduction in leukocytes including neutrophil migration to the lungs and decreased levels of IL-1β, MCP-1, IL-6 and TNFα, in response to the administration of the high-CBD extract. The results presented in this work offer that certain high-CBD extract has a high potential in the management of pathological conditions, in which the secretion of cytokines is dysregulated, as it is in severe COVID-19 disease or other infectious or inflammatory diseases.”

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”

The Role of Cannabidiol (CBD) in a Cisplatin-Induced Model of Chronic Neuropathic Pain

“Cannabinoid-based therapies offer a safer, non-opioid alternative for the management of chronic pain. While most studies focus on the analgesic potential of the main psychoactive component of marijuana, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, fewer studies have investigated the role of the non-psychoactive component, cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has been purported to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, and anxiolytic effects. In addition to having actions at both cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2 ), CBD has been shown to interact with both the transient receptor potential vanilloid-1 (TRPV1) and serotonergic (5-HT) receptors. Clinically, CBD’s lack of psychoactivity and decreased abuse liability make it an appealing pharmacotherapeutic for the management of chronic pain. Therefore, the purpose of the current study was to determine whether CBD sex- or dose-dependently reverses antinociception in an acute model of thermal pain and/or mechanical allodynia in a model of cisplatin-induced chronic neuropathic pain. Furthermore, we observed the degree to which CB1 , CB2 , 5-HT, and TRPV1 receptors may be mediating these anti-allodynic responses. Male and female wild-type mice were assessed for either the anti-allodynic effects of 0, 1, 3, 10, and 30 mg/kg CBD in a cisplatin-induced model of neuropathic pain or the antinociceptive effects of 0, 1, 3, 10, 30, and 100 mg/kg CBD in a model of acute thermal (tail-flick) pain 60 minutes following CBD administration. To determine the relative contributions of each receptor subtype in mediating the anti-allodynic effects of CBD, male and female mice were pretreated with either: vehicle, the CB1 inverse agonist SR141716A (10 mg/kg), the CB2 antagonist SR144528 (10 mg/kg), the TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine (10 mg/kg), or the 5-HT2 antagonist methysergide (4 mg/kg) 30 minutes prior to treatment with CBD. Mice were assessed for the effects of the pretreatment alone and in combination with CBD. CBD at a dose of 3 mg/kg was able to partially reverse cisplatin-induced allodynia in male and female mice, while doses of 10 and 30 mg/kg resulted in nearly complete reversal. Our preliminary findings showed that the anti-allodynic effects of 30 mg/kg CBD were completely blocked following pretreatment with SR141716A and SR144528, and partially blocked by capsazepine in both male and female mice. Interestingly, pretreatment with methysergide partially attenuated the anti-allodynic effects of CBD in females alone. In contrast, CBD (0-100 mg/kg) failed to induce antinociception on the tail-flick assay. CBD did induce mild hypothermia with males showing a greater degree of CBD-mediated hypothermia than female mice. Taken together, these findings suggest that CBD may be a more effective treatment option for the management of chronic pain. This study highlights the therapeutic potential of CBD in a model of neuropathic pain and suggests that these effects may have clinical implications for the use of cannabinoids in chronic pain management.”

The Endocannabinoid System as a Pharmacological Target for New Cancer Therapies

“Despite the long history of cannabinoid use for medicinal and ritual purposes, an endogenous system of cannabinoid-controlled receptors, as well as their ligands and the enzymes that synthesise and degrade them, was only discovered in the 1990s. Since then, the endocannabinoid system has attracted widespread scientific interest regarding new pharmacological targets in cancer treatment among other reasons.

Meanwhile, extensive preclinical studies have shown that cannabinoids have an inhibitory effect on tumour cell proliferation, tumour invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, chemoresistance and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and induce tumour cell apoptosis and autophagy as well as immune response. Appropriate cannabinoid compounds could moreover be useful for cancer patients as potential combination partners with other chemotherapeutic agents to increase their efficacy while reducing unwanted side effects.

In addition to the direct activation of cannabinoid receptors through the exogenous application of corresponding agonists, another strategy is to activate these receptors by increasing the endocannabinoid levels at the corresponding pathological hotspots. Indeed, a number of studies accordingly showed an inhibitory effect of blockers of the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacylglycerol lipase (MAGL) on tumour development and spread.

This review summarises the relevant preclinical studies with FAAH and MAGL inhibitors compared to studies with cannabinoids and provides an overview of the regulation of the endocannabinoid system in cancer.”

“Cannabinoids have been shown to suppress tumour cell proliferation, tumour invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, chemoresistance and epithelial-mesenchymal transition and to induce tumour cell apoptosis, autophagy and immune response. This review focuses on the current status of investigations on the impact of inhibitors of endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes on tumour growth and spread in preclinical oncology research.”

Plant-derived cannabinoids as anticancer agents

“Substantial preclinical evidence demonstrates the antiproliferative, cytotoxic, and antimetastatic properties of plant-derived cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) such as cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol. The cumulative body of research into the intracellular mechanisms and phenotypic effects of these compounds supports a logical, judicious progression to large-scale phase II/III clinical trials in certain cancer types to truly assess the efficacy of phytocannabinoids as anticancer agents.”

Cannabinoids as anticancer drugs: current status of preclinical research

“Drugs that target the endocannabinoid system are of interest as pharmacological options to combat cancer and to improve the life quality of cancer patients. From this perspective, cannabinoid compounds have been successfully tested as a systemic therapeutic option in a number of preclinical models over the past decades. As a result of these efforts, a large body of data suggests that the anticancer effects of cannabinoids are exerted at multiple levels of tumour progression via different signal transduction mechanisms. Accordingly, there is considerable evidence for cannabinoid-mediated inhibition of tumour cell proliferation, tumour invasion and metastasis, angiogenesis and chemoresistance, as well as induction of apoptosis and autophagy. Further studies showed that cannabinoids could be potential combination partners for established chemotherapeutic agents or other therapeutic interventions in cancer treatment. Research in recent years has yielded several compounds that exert promising effects on tumour cells and tissues in addition to the psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, such as the non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid cannabidiol and inhibitors of endocannabinoid degradation. This review provides an up-to-date overview of the potential of cannabinoids as inhibitors of tumour growth and spread as demonstrated in preclinical studies.”