“Autophagy is a “self-degradation” process whereby malfunctioned cytoplasmic constituents and protein aggregates are engulfed by a vesicle called the autophagosome, and subsequently degraded by the lysosome. Autophagy plays a crucial role in sustaining protein homeostasis and can be an alternative source of energy under detrimental circumstances. Studies have demonstrated a paradoxical function for autophagy in cancer, displaying both tumour suppressive and tumour promotive roles. In early phases of tumour development autophagy promotes cancer cell death. In later phases, autophagy enables cancer cells to survive and withstand therapy.
Cannabinoids, which are derivatives of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, have shown to be associated with autophagy induction in cells. There is an emerging interest in studying the signalling pathways involved in cannabinoid-induced autophagy and their potential application in anticancer therapies. In this review, the molecular mechanisms involved in the autophagy degradation process will be discussed. This review also highlights a role for autophagy in cancer progression, with cannabinoid-induced autophagy presenting a novel strategy for anticancer therapy.”