Anticancer properties of cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and synergistic effects with gemcitabine and cisplatin in bladder cancer cell lines

ISRCTN - Publish with BMC

“Introduction: With the legalization of cannabis in multiple jurisdictions throughout the world, a larger proportion of the population consumes cannabis. Several studies have demonstrated anti-tumor effects of components present in cannabis in different models. Unfortunately, little is known about the potential anti-tumoral effects of cannabinoids in bladder cancer and how cannabinoids could potentially synergize with chemotherapeutic agents. Our study aims to identify whether a combination of cannabinoids, like cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, with agents commonly used to treat bladder cancer, such as gemcitabine and cisplatin, can produce desirable synergistic effects. We also evaluated if co-treatment with different cannabinoids resulted in synergistic effects.

Methods: We generated concentration curves with several drugs, including several cannabinoids, to identify the range at which they could exert anti-tumor effects in bladder cancer cell lines. We tested the cytotoxic effects of gemcitabine (up to 100 nM), cisplatin (up to 100 μM), and cannabinoids (up to 10 μM) in T24 and TCCSUP cells. We also evaluated the activation of the apoptotic cascade and whether cannabinoids have the ability to reduce invasion in T24 cells.

Results: Cannabidiol, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabichromene, and cannabivarin reduce cell viability of bladder cancer cell lines, and their combination with gemcitabine or cisplatin may induce differential responses, from antagonistic to additive and synergistic effects, depending on the concentrations used. Cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol were also shown to induce apoptosis via caspase-3 cleavage and reduce invasion in a Matrigel assay. Cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol also display synergistic properties with other cannabinoids like cannabichromene or cannabivarin, although individual cannabinoids may be sufficient to reduce cell viability of bladder cancer cell lines.

Discussion: Our results indicate that cannabinoids can reduce human bladder transitional cell carcinoma cell viability, and that they can potentially exert synergistic effects when combined with other agents. Our in vitro results will form the basis for future studies in vivo and in clinical trials for the development of new therapies that could be beneficial for the treatment of bladder cancer in the future.”

“Our results show the ability of different cannabinoids to produce synergistic effects when combined with other agents like gemcitabine and cisplatin that are significantly different from each drug used alone.”

The protective effect of cannabinoids against colorectal cancer cachexia through modulation of inflammation and immune responses

Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy

“Cancer cachexia is a multifactorial disorder characterized by weight loss and muscle wasting, and there are currently no FDA-approved medications. In the present study, upregulation of six cytokines was observed in serum samples from patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) and in mouse models. A negative correlation between the levels of the six cytokines and body mass index in CRC patients was seen. Gene Ontology analysis revealed that these cytokines were involved in regulating T cell proliferation. The infiltration of CD8+ T cells was found to be associated with muscle atrophy in mice with CRC. Adoptive transfer of CD8+ T cells isolated from CRC mice resulted in muscle wasting in recipients.

The Genotype-Tissue Expression database showed that negative correlations between the expression of cachexia markers and cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) in human skeletal muscle tissues. Pharmacological treatment with Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), a selective CB2 agonist or overexpression of CB2 attenuated CRC-associated muscle atrophy. In contrast, knockout of CB2 with a CRISPR/Cas9-based strategy or depletion of CD8+ T cells in CRC mice abolished the Δ9-THC-mediated effects.

This study demonstrates that cannabinoids ameliorate CD8+ T cell infiltration in CRC-associated skeletal muscle atrophy via a CB2-mediated pathway. Serum levels of the six-cytokine signature might serve as a potential biomarker to detect the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in CRC-associated cachexia.”

“In recent years, researchers have gradually found that marijuana, in addition to recreational use, has potential applications as a supportive therapy or palliative medicine.

In conclusion, our findings indicate that the infiltration of CD8+ T cells in skeletal muscle plays a vital role in CRC-associated muscle atrophy. Treatment with Δ9-THC or CB65 can ameliorate CRC-associated cachexia and muscle atrophy by activating CB2 in CD8+ T cells. Targeting the CB2 receptor in CD8+ T cells should be evaluated as a therapeutic option for CRC patients who develop cachexia, and the six-cytokine signature in serum might serve as a potential biomarker for the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids in CRC-associated cachexia.”

Cannabidiol and Cannabis Sativa as a potential treatment in vitro prostate cancer cells silenced with RBBp6 and PC3 xenograft


“Background: Prostate cancer is the second most frequently occurring carcinoma in males worldwide and one of the leading causes of death in men around the world. Recent studies estimate that over 1.4 million males are diagnosed with prostate cancer on an annual basis, with approximately 375,000 succumbing to the disease annually. With current treatments continuing to show severe side effects, there is a need for new treatments. In this study we looked at the effect of cannabis sativa extract, cannabidiol and cisplatin on prostate cancer cells, PC3.

Methods: In addressing the above questions, we employed the MTT assay to measure the antiproliferative effect on PC3 cells following treatment with varying concentrations of Cannabis sativa extract, cisplatin and cannabidiol. xCELLigence was also used to confirm the IC50 activity in which cells were grown in a 16 well plate coated with gold and monitor cell attachment. Caspase 3/7 activity was also measured using 96 well-plate following treatment. Western-blot and qRT-PCR was also used to measure the gene expression of tumour suppressor genes, p53, Bax and Bcl2. Animal studies were employed to measure the growth of PC3-mouse derived cancer to evaluate the effect of compounds in vivo.

Results: From the treatment with varying concentrations of Cannabis sativa extract, cannabidiol and cisplatin, we have observed that the three compounds induced antiproliferation of PC3 cancer cell lines through the activation of caspase 3/7 activity. We also observed induction of apoptosis in these cells following silencing of retinoblastoma binding protein 6 (RBBP6), with upregulation of p53 and bax mRNA expression, and a reduction in Bcl2 gene expression. The growth of tumours in the mouse models were reduced following treatment with cisplatin and cannabidiol.

Conclusion: We demonstrated that cannabidiol is a viable therapy to treat prostate cancer cells, in combination with silencing of RBBP6. This suggests that cannabidiol rather Cannabis sativa extract may play an important role in reducing cancer progression.”

“In conclusion, these results further suggest that CBD is an effective anti-tumor drug which possesses anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic properties. Additionally, these findings point to a crosstalk between RBBP6 silencing and CBD treatment rather than Cannabis sativa extract. Moreover, CBD-siRBBP6 has shown an important role of p53 up-regulation in prostate cancer, a tumor microenvironment modulating property. In conclusion, the findings of this study promote using CBD in cancer patients mostly with an inactivated p53 gene.”

Gene Profiling of Cannabis-sativa-mediated Apoptosis in Human Melanoma Cells

Anticancer Research: 43 (3)

“Background/aim: Malignant melanoma is an aggressive skin cancer, accounting for the majority of skin cancer deaths. Prognosis is often poor and finding effective treatment remains a challenge. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are main bioactive components of Cannabis sativa plant extracts that have been shown to exert anti-tumor effects. In this study, we aimed to perform gene expression analysis of human melanoma A375 cells following stimulation with C. sativa extracts.

Materials and methods: Gene expression profiles of A375 human melanoma and Vero (control) cell lines were evaluated by RNA sequencing and quantitative real-time PCR.

Results: Flow cytometry showed that the THC+CBD cannabis fractions induced apoptosis on A375 cells. Induction of apoptosis was accompanied by a notable up-regulation of DNA damage inducible transcript 3 (DDIT), nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR), colony-stimulating factor 2 (CSF2), growth arrest and DNA damage inducible beta (GADD45B), and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) genes and down-regulation of aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator 2 (ARNT2), cyclin E2 (CCNE2), integrin subunit alpha 9 (ITGA9), proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and E2F transcription factor 1 (E2F1) genes. Treatment of A375 cells with the THC+CBD fraction inhibited the phosphorylation of ERK1/2 signaling pathway, which regulates melanoma cell proliferation. We showed that the THC+CBD combination disrupted melanoma cell migration.

Conclusion: Use of C. sativa-derived extracts containing equal amounts of THC and CBD is proposed as a potential treatment of melanoma.”

The synergistic anticancer effect of CBD and DOX in osteosarcoma


“Background: Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumor that can present with pain in the bones, joints, and local masses. The incidence is highest in adolescents, and the most common sites are the distal femur, proximal tibia and proximal humerus metaphyseal. Doxorubicin is the first-line chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of osteosarcoma, but it has many side effects. Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive plant cannabinoid cannabinol (CBD) that has been shown to be effective against osteosarcoma; however, the molecular targets and mechanisms of CBD action in osteosarcoma remain unclear.

Methods: Cell proliferation, migration, invasion and colony formation were analyzed using two drugs alone or in combination to evaluate their inhibitory effects on the malignant characteristics of OS cells. Apoptosis and the cell cycle were detected by flow cytometry. The synergistic inhibitory effect of doxorubicin/cannabidiol on tumors was also detected in nude mouse xenotransplantation models.

Results: Through analysis of two osteosarcoma cell lines, MG63 and U2R, it was found that the cannabidiol/doxorubicin combination treatment synergistically inhibited growth, migration and invasion and induced apoptosis, blocking G2 stagnation in OS cells. Further mechanistic exploration suggests that the PI3K-AKT-mTOR pathway and MAPK pathway play an important role in the synergistic inhibitory effect of the two drugs in osteosarcoma. Finally, in vivo experimental results showed that the cannabidiol/doxorubicin combination treatment significantly reduced the number of tumor xenografts compared to cannabidiol alone or doxorubicin alone.

Conclusions: Our findings in this study suggest that cannabidiol and doxorubicin have a synergistic anticancer effect on OS cells, and their combined application may be a promising treatment strategy for OS.”

Phytocannabinoids in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Treatment: Current Knowledge and Future Insights

Anticancer Research: 43 (3)

“Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) represents an aggressive subtype of breast cancer, which is deficient in estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) expression. Thus, TNBC cells are unable to respond to the conventional hormonal therapies, making chemotherapy the only therapeutic choice. Patients with TNBC develop metastasis and recurrence over time and have reduced survival compared to patients with other subtypes of breast cancer. Therefore, there is a need for innovative therapies. Data emerged from pre-clinical studies, highlighted various antitumor activities of plant-derived Cannabis sativa and synthetic cannabinoids (CBs), including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). On the contrary, some studies indicated that CBs might also promote tumor progression. At present, clinical studies on the effects of CBs from Cannabis sativa in cancer patients are few. In the present study, we reviewed known and possible interactions between cannabinoids and TNBC therapies.”

“Overall, apart from the need for other studies aimed to dissect the molecular pathways underlying the antitumor CBs’ properties, phytocannabinoids should be considered as potential agents for inhibiting TNBC progression.”

A Descriptive Review of Cannabis sativa Patents for Cancer Treatment

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“Background: Cannabis use for tumor treatment has been explored in several areas, and its potential for tumor remission is currently being studied after the discovery of the endogenous cannabinoid.

Objective: The study aimed to conduct a critical patent review to identify and explore the latest advances and therapeutic strategies using cannabis to treat cancer.

Methods: The research was carried out in the free and online database Espacenet, using the descriptors “cancer” and “Cannabis or cannabidiol” in the title or abstract. A total of 95 patents were identified for preliminary evaluation in the database. Six duplicate patents were excluded, 12 referring to traditional Chinese medicine and 36 with a title in disagreement with the scope of this review. In addition the final selection involved 21 patents that were in line with the objective of the study.

Results: As observed in the reading of patents, the interest of pharmaceutical industries and researchers and the development of new products to fight cancer have increased in recent years. The main cannabinoids present in the patents are tetrahydrocannabinol, cannabidiol, and hemp. Moreover, the patents were classified and the main applicant countries were the United States followed by Japan, with a higher filing rate in 2019 and, mainly by the industry.

Conclusion: In conclusion we can say that, the importance of parliamentary approval in the cultivation and investments that, in addition to bringing innovation to the industrial sector, enriches research in the area, contributing to the creation of new medicines.”

The Anti-Tumorigenic Role of Cannabinoid Receptor 2 in Colon Cancer: A Study in Mice and Humans


“The endocannabinoid system, particularly cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2 in mice and CNR2 in humans), has controversial pathophysiological implications in colon cancer.

Here, we investigate the role of CB2 in potentiating the immune response in colon cancer in mice and determine the influence of CNR2 variants in humans. Comparing wild-type (WT) mice to CB2 knockout (CB2-/-) mice, we performed a spontaneous cancer study in aging mice and subsequently used the AOM/DSS model of colitis-associated colorectal cancer and a model for hereditary colon cancer (ApcMin/+). Additionally, we analyzed genomic data in a large human population to determine the relationship between CNR2 variants and colon cancer incidence.

Aging CB2-/- mice exhibited a higher incidence of spontaneous precancerous lesions in the colon compared to WT controls. The AOM/DSS-treated CB2-/- and ApcMin/+CB2-/- mice experienced aggravated tumorigenesis and enhanced splenic populations of immunosuppressive myeloid-derived suppressor cells along with abated anti-tumor CD8+ T cells. Importantly, corroborative genomic data reveal a significant association between non-synonymous variants of CNR2 and the incidence of colon cancer in humans.

Taken together, the results suggest that endogenous CB2 activation suppresses colon tumorigenesis by shifting the balance towards anti-tumor immune cells in mice and thus portray the prognostic value of CNR2 variants for colon cancer patients.”

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.”

UK medical cannabis registry: assessment of clinical outcomes in patients with headache disorders

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“Objectives: Headache disorders are a common cause of disability and reduced health-related quality of life globally. Growing evidence supports the use of cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) for chronic pain; however, a paucity of research specifically focuses on CBMPs’ efficacy and safety in headache disorders. This study aims to assess changes in validated patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) in patients with headaches prescribed CBMPs and investigate the clinical safety in this population.

Methods: A case series of the UK Medical Cannabis Registry was conducted. Primary outcomes were changes from baseline in PROMs (Headache Impact Test-6 (HIT-6), Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS), EQ-5D-5L, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaire and Single-Item Sleep Quality Scale (SQS)) at 1-, 3-, and 6-months follow-up. P-values <0.050 were deemed statistically significant.

Results: Ninety-seven patients were identified for inclusion. Improvements in HIT-6, MIDAS, EQ-5D-5L and SQS were observed at 1-, 3-, and 6-months (p < 0.005) follow-up. GAD-7 improved at 1- and 3-months (p < 0.050). Seventeen (17.5%) patients experienced a total of 113 (116.5%) adverse events.

Conclusion: Improvements in headache/migraine-specific PROMs and general health-related quality of life were associated with the initiation of CBMPs in patients with headache disorders. Cautious interpretation of results is necessary, and randomized control trials are required to ascertain causality.”