Antitumor Cannabinoid Chemotypes: Structural Insights.

Image result for frontiers in pharmacology“Cannabis has long been known to limit or prevent nausea and vomiting, lack of appetite, and pain. For this reason, cannabinoids have been successfully used in the treatment of some of the unwanted side effects caused by cancer chemotherapy.

Besides their palliative effects, research from the past two decades has demonstrated their promising potential as antitumor agents in a wide variety of tumors.

Cannabinoids of endogenous, phytogenic, and synthetic nature have been shown to impact the proliferation of cancer through the modulation of different proteins involved in the endocannabinoid system such as the G protein-coupled receptors CB1, CB2, and GRP55, the ionotropic receptor TRPV1, or the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH).

In this article, we aim to structurally classify the antitumor cannabinoid chemotypes described so far according to their targets and types of cancer. In a drug discovery approach, their in silico pharmacokinetic profile has been evaluated in order to identify appropriate drug-like profiles, which should be taken into account for further progress toward the clinic.

This analysis may provide structural insights into the selection of specific cannabinoid scaffolds for the development of antitumor drugs for the treatment of particular types of cancer.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31214034

“The first report on the antitumor activity of phytocannabinoids was published over four decades ago. During these last years, significant research has been focused on the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids to manage palliative effects in cancer patients. Besides such palliative applications, some cannabinoids have shown anticancer properties. Since inflammation is a common risk factor for cancer, and some cannabinoids have shown anti-inflammatory properties, they could play a role in chemoprevention.” https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.00621/full
“Antitumor effects of THC.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11097557
“Antitumor effects of cannabidiol” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14617682
“Anti-tumour actions of cannabinoids.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30019449
“Extensive preclinical research has demonstrated that cannabinoids, the active ingredients of Cannabis sativa, trigger antitumor responses in different models of cancer.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29940172
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5-Chlorobenzofuran-2-carboxamides: From allosteric CB1 modulators to potential apoptotic antitumor agents.

European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry“Cannabinoids as THC and the CB1 allosteric modulator CBD were reported to have antiproliferative activities with no reports for other CB1 allosteric modulators as the 5-chloroindole-2-carboxamide derivatives and their furan congeners. Based on the antiproliferative activity of two 5-chlorobenzofuran-2-carboxamide allosteric CB1 modulators, a series of novel derivatives was designed and synthesized. The synthesized compounds were tested in a cell viability assay using human mammary gland epithelial cell line (MCF-10A) where all the compounds exhibited no cytotoxic effects and more than 85% cell viability at a concentration of 50 μM. Some derivatives showed good antiproliferative activities against tumor cells as compounds 8, 15, 21 and 22. The most active compound 15 showed equipotent activity to doxorubicin. Compounds 7, 9, 15, 16, 21 and 22 increased the level of active caspase 3 by 4-8 folds, compared to the control cells in MCF-7 cell line and doxorubicin as a reference drug. Compounds 15 and 21, the most activecaspase-3 inducers, increase the levels of caspase 8 and 9 indicating activation of both intrinsic and extrinsic pathways and showed potent induction of Bax, down-regulation of Bcl-2 protein levels and over-expression of Cytochrome C levels in MCF-7 cell lines. Compound 15 exhibited cell cycle arrest at the Pre-G1 and G2/M phases in the cell cycle analysis of MCF-7 cell line. The drug Likeness profile of the synthesized compounds showed that all the compounds were predicted to have high oral absorption complying with different pharmacokinetics filters.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31128433

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0223523419304507?via%3Dihub

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Cannabidiol Enhances the Therapeutic Effects of TRAIL by Upregulating DR5 in Colorectal Cancer.

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“Cannabidiol, a major non-psychotomimetic compound derived from Cannabis sativa, is a potential therapeutic agent for a variety of diseases such as inflammatory diseases, chronic neurodegenerative diseases, and cancers.

Here, we found that the combination of cannabidiol and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) produces synergistic antitumor effects in vitro. However, this synergistic effect was not observed in normal colonic cells. The levels of ER stress-related proteins, including C/EBP homologous protein (CHOP) and phosphorylated protein kinase RNA-like ER kinase (PERK) were increased in treatment of cannabidiol.

Cannabidiol enhanced significantly DR5 expression by ER stress. Knockdown of DR5 decreased the combined effect of cannabidioland TRAIL. Additionally, the combination of TRAIL and cannabidiol decreased tumor growth in xenograft models.

Our studies demonstrate that cannabidiol enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis by upregulating DR5 and suggests that cannabidiol is a novel agent for increasing sensitivity to TRAIL.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31075907

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The Endocannabinoid System as a Target in Cancer Diseases: Are We There Yet?

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“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) has been placed in the anti-cancer spotlight in the last decade. The immense data load published on its dual role in both tumorigenesis and inhibition of tumor growth and metastatic spread has transformed the cannabinoid receptors CB1 (CB1R) and CB2 (CB2R), and other members of the endocannabinoid-like system, into attractive new targets for the treatment of various cancer subtypes.

Although the clinical use of cannabinoids has been extensively documented in the palliative setting, clinical trials on their application as anti-cancer drugs are still ongoing. As drug repurposing is significantly faster and more economical than de novo introduction of a new drug into the clinic, there is hope that the existing pharmacokinetic and safety data on the ECS ligands will contribute to their successful translation into oncological healthcare.

CB1R and CB2R are members of a large family of membrane proteins called G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). GPCRs can form homodimers, heterodimers and higher order oligomers with other GPCRs or non-GPCRs. Currently, several CB1R and CB2R-containing heteromers have been reported and, in cancer cells, CB2R form heteromers with the G protein-coupled chemokine receptor CXCR4, the G protein-coupled receptor 55 (GPR55) and the tyrosine kinase receptor (TKR) human V-Erb-B2 Avian Erythroblastic Leukemia Viral Oncogene Homolog 2 (HER2).

These protein complexes possess unique pharmacological and signaling properties, and their modulation might affect the antitumoral activity of the ECS. This review will explore the potential of the endocannabinoid network in the anti-cancer setting as well as the clinical and ethical pitfalls behind it, and will develop on the value of cannabinoid receptor heteromers as potential new targets for anti-cancer therapies and as prognostic biomarkers.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31024307

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2019.00339/full

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Future Aspects for Cannabinoids in Breast Cancer Therapy.

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“Cannabinoids (CBs) from Cannabis sativa provide relief for tumor-associated symptoms (including nausea, anorexia, and neuropathic pain) in the palliative treatment of cancer patients.

Additionally, they may decelerate tumor progression in breast cancer patients.

Indeed, the psychoactive delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) and other CBs inhibited disease progression in breast cancer models.

The effects of CBs on signaling pathways in cancer cells are conferred via G-protein coupled CB-receptors (CB-Rs), CB1-R and CB2-R, but also via other receptors, and in a receptor-independent way.

THC is a partial agonist for CB1-R and CB2-R; CBD is an inverse agonist for both.

In breast cancer, CB1-R expression is moderate, but CB2-R expression is high, which is related to tumor aggressiveness. CBs block cell cycle progression and cell growth and induce cancer cell apoptosis by inhibiting constitutive active pro-oncogenic signaling pathways, such as the extracellular-signal-regulated kinase pathway.

They reduce angiogenesis and tumor metastasis in animal breast cancer models. CBs are not only active against estrogen receptor-positive, but also against estrogen-resistant breast cancer cells. In human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive and triple-negative breast cancer cells, blocking protein kinase B- and cyclooxygenase-2 signaling via CB2-R prevents tumor progression and metastasis.

Furthermore, selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), including tamoxifen, bind to CB-Rs; this process may contribute to the growth inhibitory effect of SERMs in cancer cells lacking the estrogen receptor.

In summary, CBs are already administered to breast cancer patients at advanced stages of the disease, but they might also be effective at earlier stages to decelerate tumor progression.”

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WIN55,212-2 induces caspase-independent apoptosis on human glioblastoma cells by regulating HSP70, p53 and Cathepsin D.

Toxicology in Vitro

“Despite the standard approaches to treat the highly aggressive and invasive glioblastoma (GBM), it remains incurable.

In this sense, cannabinoids highlight as a promising tool, because this tumor overexpresses CB1 and/or CB2 receptors and being, therefore, can be susceptible to cannabinoids treatment.

Thus, this work investigated the action of the cannabinoid agonist WIN55-212-2 on GBM cell lines and non-malignant cell lines, in vitro and in vivo. WIN was selectively cytotoxic to GBM cells. These presented blebbing and nuclear alterations in addition to cell shrinkage and chromatin condensation. WIN also significantly inhibited the migration of GAMG and U251 cells.

Finally, the data also showed that the antitumor effects of WIN are exerted, at least to some extent, by the expression of p53 and increased cathepsin D in addition to the decreased expression of HSP70.This data can indicate caspase-independent cell death mechanism. In addition, WIN decreased tumoral perimeter as well as caused a reduction the blood vessels in this area, without causing lysis, hemorrhage or blood clotting.

So, the findings herein presented reinforce the usefulness of cannabinoids as a candidate for further evaluation in treatment in glioblastoma treatment.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30776504

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887233318307537?via%3Dihub

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On the influence of cannabinoids on cell morphology and motility of glioblastoma cells.

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“The mechanisms behind the anti-tumoral effects of cannabinoids by impacting the migratory activity of tumor cells are only partially understood. Previous studies demonstrated that cannabinoids altered the organization of the actin cytoskeleton in various cell types.

As actin is one of the main contributors to cell motility and is postulated to be linked to tumor invasion, we tested the following hypothesizes: 1) Can cannabinoids alter cell motility in a cannabinoid receptor dependent manner? 2) Are these alterations associated with reorganizations in the actin cytoskeleton? 3) If so, what are the underlying molecular mechanisms?

Three different glioblastoma cell lines were treated with specific cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 agonists and antagonists. Afterwards, we measured changes in cell motility using live cell imaging and alterations of the actin structure in fixed cells. Additionally, the protein amount of phosphorylated p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), focal adhesion kinases (FAK) and phosphorylated FAK (pFAK) over time were measured.

Cannabinoids induced changes in cell motility, morphology and actin organization in a receptor and cell line dependent manner. No significant changes were observed in the analyzed signaling molecules. Cannabinoids can principally induce changes in the actin cytoskeleton and motility of glioblastoma cell lines. Additionally, single cell motility of glioblastoma is independent of their morphology. Furthermore, the observed effects seem to be independent of p44/42 MAPK and pFAK pathways.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30753211

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0212037

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Therapeutic targeting of HER2-CB2R heteromers in HER2-positive breast cancer.

 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 116 (6)

“Although human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-targeted therapies have dramatically improved the clinical outcome of HER2-positive breast cancer patients, innate and acquired resistance remains an important clinical challenge. New therapeutic approaches and diagnostic tools for identification, stratification, and treatment of patients at higher risk of resistance and recurrence are therefore warranted.

Here, we unveil a mechanism controlling the oncogenic activity of HER2: heteromerization with the cannabinoid receptor CB2R. We show that HER2 physically interacts with CB2R in breast cancer cells, and that the expression of these heteromers correlates with poor patient prognosis.

The cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) disrupts HER2-CB2R complexes by selectively binding to CB2R, which leads to (i) the inactivation of HER2 through disruption of HER2-HER2 homodimers, and (ii) the subsequent degradation of HER2 by the proteasome via the E3 ligase c-CBL. This in turn triggers antitumor responses in vitro and in vivo. Selective targeting of CB2R transmembrane region 5 mimicked THC effects.

Together, these findings define HER2-CB2R heteromers as new potential targets for antitumor therapies and biomarkers with prognostic value in HER2-positive breast cancer.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30733293

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/02/06/1815034116

“Pharmacological activation of cannabinoid receptors elicits antitumoral responses in different cancer models. Our findings reveal an unprecedented role of CB2 as a pivotal regulator of HER2 pro-oncogenic signaling in breast cancer” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25855725
“Extensive preclinical research has demonstrated that cannabinoids, the active ingredients of Cannabis sativa, trigger antitumor responses in different models of cancer. Together, our results suggest that standardized cannabis drug preparations, rather than pure cannabinoids, could be considered as part of the therapeutic armamentarium to manage breast cancer.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29940172
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Potential Use of Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer.

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Cannabinoid extracts may have anticancer properties, which can improve cancer treatment outcomes.

The aim of this review is to determine the potentially utility of cannabinoids in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Results: Cannabinol receptors have been identified in pancreatic cancer with several studies showing in vitroantiproliferative and proapoptotic effects. The main active substances found in cannabis plants are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There effects are predominately mediated through, but not limited to cannabinoid receptor-1, cannabinoid receptor-2, and G-protein-coupled receptor 55 pathways. In vitro studies consistently demonstrated tumor growth-inhibiting effects with CBD, THC, and synthetic derivatives. Synergistic treatment effects have been shown in two studies with the combination of CBD/synthetic cannabinoid receptor ligands and chemotherapy in xenograft and genetically modified spontaneous pancreatic cancer models. There are, however, no clinical studies to date showing treatment benefits in patients with pancreatic cancer.

Conclusions: Cannabinoids may be an effective adjunct for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Data on the anticancer effectiveness of various cannabinoid formulations, treatment dosing, precise mode of action, and clinical studies are lacking.”

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Cannabidiol-induced apoptosis is mediated by activation of Noxa in human colorectal cancer cells.

Cancer Letters

“Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the compounds present in the marijuana plant, has anti-tumor properties, but its mechanism is not well known.

This study aimed to evaluate the apoptotic action of CBD in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells, and focused on its effects on the novel pro-apoptotic Noxa-reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling pathway.

CBD experiments were performed using the CRC cell lines HCT116 and DLD-1. CBD induced apoptosis by regulating many pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins, of which Noxa showed significantly higher expression. To understand the relationship between Noxa and CBD-induced apoptosis, Noxa levels were downregulated using siRNA, and the expression of apoptosis markers decreased.

After ROS production was blocked, the level of Noxa also decreased, suggesting that ROS is involved in the regulation of Noxa, which along with ROS is a well-known pro-apoptotic signaling agents. As a result, CBD induced apoptosis in a Noxa-and-ROS-dependent manner.

Taken together, the results obtained in this study re-demonstrated the effects of CBD treatment in vivo, thus confirming its role as a novel, reliable anticancer drug.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30660647

“Our results using cells, mice, and patient-derived cells strongly suggest, for the first time, that that CBD can cause Noxa-induced cell death. These results suggest that that CBD has important implications for the potential treatment of human CRC.”

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