Characterization of the Antitumor Potential of Extracts of Cannabis sativa Strains with High CBD Content in Human Neuroblastoma


“Cannabis has been used for decades as a palliative therapy in the treatment of cancer. This is because of its beneficial effects on the pain and nausea that patients can experience as a result of chemo/radiotherapy. Tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol are the main compounds present in Cannabis sativa, and both exert their actions through a receptor-mediated mechanism and through a non-receptor-mediated mechanism, which modulates the formation of reactive oxygen species. These oxidative stress conditions might trigger lipidic changes, which would compromise cell membrane stability and viability.

In this sense, numerous pieces of evidence describe a potential antitumor effect of cannabinoid compounds in different types of cancer, although controversial results limit their implementation. In order to further investigate the possible mechanism involved in the antitumoral effects of cannabinoids, three extracts isolated from Cannabis sativa strains with high cannabidiol content were analyzed. Cell mortality, cytochrome c oxidase activity and the lipid composition of SH-SY5Y cells were determined in the absence and presence of specific cannabinoid ligands, with and without antioxidant pre-treatment.

The cell mortality induced by the extracts in this study appeared to be related to the inhibition of the cytochrome c oxidase activity and to the THC concentration. This effect on cell viability was similar to that observed with the cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2. The effect was partially blocked by the selective CB1 antagonist AM281, and the antioxidant α-tocopherol. Moreover, certain membrane lipids were affected by the extracts, which demonstrated the importance of oxidative stress in the potential antitumoral effects of cannabinoids.”

“In conclusion, cannabinoid extracts from high-CBD strains exhibit differential antitumor effects in human neuroblastoma cells by interfering with mitochondrial respiration and increasing ROS production, lipid peroxidation, and cell apoptosis in such a way that appears to correlate with THC content. However, the contributions of other compounds cannot be excluded. This action of the Cannabis sativa plant extracts used in our study was not only mediated by the cannabinoid receptor’s activity, but also by its effect on the mETC complexes, among others, which promote oxidative stress. Moreover, the use of plant extracts has demonstrated higher antitumoral effects than cannabinoids by themselves.”

Hemp ( Cannabis sativa L., Kompolti cv.) and Hop ( Humulus lupulus L., Chinook cv.) Essential Oil and Hydrolate: HS-GC-MS Chemical Investigation and Apoptotic Activity Evaluation


“In this study, essential oils (EOs) and hydrolates (Hys) from Italian hemp (Cannabis sativa L. Kompolti cv.) and hop (Humulus Lupulus L., Chinook cv.) supply chains were chemically characterized and tested to investigate their apoptotic potential for the first time. Headspace-Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (HS-GC-MS) techniques were performed to describe their volatile chemical profile, highlighting a composition rich in terpene derivatives such as monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes among which β-myrcene, limonene, β-caryophyllene and α-humulene were the main constituents of EOs; in contrast, linalool, cisp-menth-2,8-dien-1-ol, terpinen-4-ol, α-terpineol, caryophyllene oxide, and τ-cadinol were found in the Hys.

The cytotoxicity activity on human leukemia cells (HL60), human neuroblastoma cells (SH-SY5Y), human metastatic adenocarcinoma breast cells (MCF7), human adenocarcinoma breast cells (MDA), and normal breast epithelial cell (MCF10A) for the EOs and Hys was studied by MTT assay and cytofluorimetric analysis and scanning and transmission electron microscopy were performed to define ultrastructural changes and the mechanism of cells death for HL 60 cells.

An induction of the apoptotic mechanism was evidenced for hemp and hop EOs after treatment with the corresponding EC50 dose. In addition, TEM and SEM investigations revealed typical characteristics induced by the apoptotic pathway. Therefore, thanks to the integration of the applied methodologies with the used techniques, this work provides an overview on the metabolomic profile and the apoptotic potential of hemp and hop EOs and, for the first time, also of Hys.

The findings of this preliminary study confirm that the EOs and Hys from Cannabis and Humulus species are sources of bioactive molecules with multiple biological effects yet to be explored.”

Anti-Tumorigenic Effect of a Novel Derivative of 2-Hydroxyoleic Acid and the Endocannabinoid Anandamide on Neuroblastoma Cells


“Modulation of the endogenous cannabinoid system has been suggested as a potential anticancer strategy.

In the search for novel and less toxic therapeutic options, structural modifications of the endocannabinoid anandamide and the synthetic derivative of oleic acid, Minerval (HU-600), were done to obtain 2-hydroxy oleic acid ethanolamide (HU-585), which is an HU-600 derivative with the anandamide side chain.

We showed that treatment of SK-N-SH neuroblastoma cells with HU-585 induced a better anti-tumorigenic effect in comparison to HU-600 as evidenced by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazole-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay, colony-forming assay, and migration assay. Moreover, HU-585 demonstrated pro-apoptotic properties shown by increased levels of activated caspase-3 following treatment and a better senescence induction effect in comparison to HU-600, as demonstrated by increased activity of lysosomal β-galactosidase. Finally, we observed that combined treatment of HU-585 with the senolytic drugs ABT-263 in vitro, and ABT-737 in vivo resulted in enhanced anti-proliferative effects and reduced neuroblastoma xenograft growth in comparison to treatment with HU-585 alone.

Based on these results, we suggest that HU-585 is a pro-apoptotic and senescence-inducing compound, better than HU-600. Hence, it may be a beneficial option for the treatment of resistant neuroblastoma especially when combined with senolytic drugs that enhance its anti-tumorigenic effects.”

“The cannabinoids are a group of more than 100 chemically related compounds found in the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa, that have been found to possess diverse pharmacological activities in cancer, including cytostatic, apoptotic, and antiangiogenic effects. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive constituent in Cannabis sativa, acts mainly through the activation of specific cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 and thus mimics the binding of the animal endogenous cannabinoids (named endocannabinoids).”

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”

Synthesis and In Vitro Characterization of Selective Cannabinoid CB2 Receptor Agonists: Biological Evaluation against Neuroblastoma Cancer Cells


“1,8-naphthyridine-3-carboxamide structures were previously identified as a promising scaffold from which to obtain CB2R agonists with anticancer and anti-inflammatory activity. This work describes the synthesis and functional characterization of new 1,8-naphthyridin-2(1H)-one-3-carboxamides with high affinity and selectivity for CB2R. The new compounds were able to pharmacologically modulate the cAMP response without modulating CB2R-dependent β-arrestin2 recruitment. These structures were also evaluated for their anti-cancer activity against SH-SY5Y and SK-N-BE cells. They were able to reduce the cell viability of both neuroblastoma cancer cell lines with micromolar potency (IC50 of FG158a = 11.8 μM and FG160a = 13.2 μM in SH-SY5Y cells) by a CB2R-mediated mechanism. Finally, in SH-SY5Y cells one of the newly synthesized compounds, FG158a, was able to modulate ERK1/2 expression by a CB2R-mediated effect, thus suggesting that this signaling pathway might be involved in its potential anti-cancer effect.”

A natural product from Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa inhibits homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2 (HIPK2), attenuating MPP +-induced apoptosis in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells

Bioorganic Chemistry

“Homeodomain-interacting protein kinase 2 (HIPK2) is a conserved serine/threonine kinase, which regulate transcription, cell differentiation, proliferation and apoptosis. Previous evidences indicated that HIPK2 could be involved in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases, suggesting as a novel target for Parkinson’s disease (PD) therapeutic development. Herein, gene microarray analysis was performed to verify the key regulatory function of HIPK2 in PD. (Z)-methylp-hydroxycinnamate (ZMHC, 7) with other eighteen compounds were isolated from Cannabis sativa subsp. sativa, growing in Bama Yao Autonomous County, one of the five largest longevity regions of the world. Intriguingly, ZMHC was identified to bind HIPK2 with high affinity through molecular modeling and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Moreover, cell morphology, flow cytometry and western blot assay suggested that ZMHC inhibited HIPK2, which attenuated MPP+-induced apoptosis in SH-SY5Y cells. In conclusion, these findings discovered a natural product that inhibited HIPK2, and highlighted that ZMHC could be a potential precursor agent for future PD therapy.”

Cannabinol Inhibits Cellular Proliferation, Invasion, and Angiogenesis of Neuroblastoma via Novel miR-34a/tRiMetF31/PFKFB3 Axis


“High-risk neuroblastoma is an aggressive pediatric tumor. Despite great advances in neuroblastoma therapy and supportive care protocols, no curative treatment is available for most patients with this disease. Here, we uncover that CBN attenuated the cell proliferation, invasion, and angiogenesis of neuroblastoma cell lines in a dose-dependent manner via the inhibition of the AKT pathway and the upregulation of miR-34a that targets E2F1. Both miR-34a and a 31-nt tRNAiMet fragment (tRiMetF31) derived from miR-34a-guided cleavage were downregulated in 4 examined neuroblastoma cell lines inversely correlated with the levels of its direct target, the PFKFB3 protein. Moreover, ectopic tRiMetF31 suppressed proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis in the studied neuroblastoma cell lines. Conversely, tRiMetF31 knockdown promoted PFKFB3 expression, resulting in enhanced angiogenesis. Our findings reveal a suppressive role of CBN in neuroblastoma tumorigenesis, highlighting a novel and crucial miR-34a tumor suppressor network in CBN’s antineuroblastoma actions.”

“Cannabinol is a chemical found in the Cannabis sativa plant.”

Cannabidiol Protects Dopaminergic Neuronal Cells from Cadmium.

ijerph-logo“The protective effect of cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of Cannabis sativa, against neuronal toxicity induced by cadmium chloride (CdCl2 10 μM) was investigated in a retinoic acid (RA)-differentiated SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell line.

CBD (1 μM) was applied 24 h before and removed during cadmium (Cd) treatment. In differentiated neuronal cells, CBD significantly reduced the Cd-dependent decrease of cell viability, and the rapid reactive oxygen species (ROS) increase.

CBD significantly prevented the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress (GRP78 increase) and the subcellular distribution of the cytochrome C, as well as the overexpression of the pro-apoptotic protein BAX. Immunocytochemical analysis as well as quantitative protein evaluation by western blotting revealed that CBD partially counteracted the depletion of the growth associated protein 43 (GAP43) and of the neuronal specific class III β-tubulin (β3 tubulin) induced by Cd treatment.

These data showed that Cd-induced neuronal injury was ameliorated by CBD treatment and it was concluded that CBD may represent a potential option to protect neuronal cells from the detrimental effects of Cd toxicity.”

Role of miRNA in the regulation of cannabidiol-mediated apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells.

Related image

“Neuroblastoma (NBL) is one of the most common childhood cancers that originate from the immature nerve cells of the sympathetic system. Studies with NBL cancers have also shown that miRNAs are dysregulated and may play a critical role in pathogenesis.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana which has been previously shown by our laboratory and others to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. However, there are no studies reported to test if CBD mediates these effects through regulation of miRNA.

In the current study, therefore, we investigated if CBD induces apoptosis in human NBL cell lines, SH SY5Y and IMR-32, and if it is regulated by miRNA.

Our data demonstrated that CBD induces apoptosis in NBL cells through activation of serotonin and vanilloid receptors. We also found that caspase-2 and -3 played an important role in the induction of apoptosis. CBD also significantly reduced NBL cell migration and invasion in vitro.

Furthermore, CBD blocked mitochondrial respiration and caused a shift in metabolism towards glycolysis. CBD altered the expression of miRNA specifically, down-regulating hsa-let-7a and upregulating hsa-mir-1972. Downregulation of let-7a increased expression of target caspase-3, and growth arrest specific-7 (GAS-7) genes. Upregulation of hsa-mir-1972 caused decreased expression of BCL2L1 and SIRT2 genes.

Together, our studies suggest that CBD-mediated apoptosis in NBL cells is regulated by miRNA.”

Development of a Cannabinoid-Based Photoaffinity Probe to Determine the Δ8/9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Protein Interaction Landscape in Neuroblastoma Cells.

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research cover image

“Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principle psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis, is widely used for its therapeutic effects in a large variety of diseases, but it also has numerous neurological side effects. The cannabinoid receptors (CBRs) are responsible to a large extent for these, but not all biological responses are mediated via the CBRs.

Objectives: The identification of additional target proteins of THC to enable a better understanding of the (adverse) physiological effects of THC.

Methods: In this study, a chemical proteomics approach using a two-step photoaffinity probe is applied to identify potential proteins that may interact with THC.

Results: Photoaffinity probe 1, containing a diazirine as a photocrosslinker, and a terminal alkyne as a ligation handle, was synthesized in 14 steps. It demonstrated high affinity for both CBRs. Subsequently, two-step photoaffinity labeling in neuroblastoma cells led to identification of four potential novel protein targets of THC. The identification of these putative protein hits is a first step towards a better understanding of the protein interaction profile of THC, which could ultimately lead to the development of novel therapeutics based on THC.”