“The difficulty of detection at an early stage and the ease of developing resistance to chemotherapy render ovarian cancer (OVC) difficult to cure. Although several novel cancer therapies have been developed recently, drug resistance remains a concern since chemotherapy remains as the most commonly used treatment for cancer patients. Therefore, there is an urgent need to reclaim potential combination treatments for OVC.
So far, there have been several research targeting the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in cancer. Among the various cannabinoid-based drugs, endocannabinoids, which are lipid molecules generated in the body, have been reported to produce many anti-tumor effects; however, research investigating the anti-chemoresistance effect of endocannabinoids in OVC remains unclear.
In this study, we aimed to combine endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA), and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) with chemotherapeutic drugs as a combination approach to treat OVC.
Our results showed that OVC cells expressed both cannabinoid receptors (CBR), CB1 and CB2, suggesting the possibility of endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a target. We found that the anti-chemoresistance effect mediated by endocannabinoids was caused by upregulation of ceramide levels, leading to severe endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and increased autophagy in chemoresistant cancer cells. Therefore, chemoresistant cancer cell growth was inhibited, and cell apoptosis was induced under combined treatments. Based on our results, endocannabinoids overcomed chemoresistance of OVC cells in vitro.
Our findings suggest that drugs targeting ECS may have the potential to be adjuvants for chemotherapy by increasing the efficacy of chemotherapeutic drugs and decreasing their side effects.”