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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Targeting Glioma Initiating Cells With A Combined Therapy Of Cannabinoids And Temozolomide.

Biochemical Pharmacology

“Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most frequent and aggressive type of brain tumor due, at least in part, to its poor response to current anticancer treatments. These features could be explained, at least partially, by the presence within the tumor mass of a small population of cells termed Glioma Initiating Cells (GICs) that has been proposed to be responsible for the relapses occurring in this disease. Thus, the development of novel therapeutic approaches (and specifically those targeting the population of GICs) is urgently needed to improve the survival of the patients suffering this devastating disease.

Previous observations by our group and others have shown that Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main active ingredient of marijuana) and other cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD) exert antitumoral actions in several animal models of cancer, including gliomas.

We also found that the administration of THC (or of THC + CBD at a 1:1 ratio) in combination with temozolomide, the benchmark agent for the treatment of GBM, synergistically reduces the growth of glioma xenografts.

In this work we investigated the effect of the combination of TMZ and THC:CBD mixtures containing different ratios of the two cannabinoids in preclinical glioma models, including those derived from GICs.

Our findings show that TMZ + THC:CBD combinations containing a higher proportion of CDB (but not TMZ + CBD alone) produce a similar antitumoral effect as the administration of TMZ together with THC and CBD at a 1:1 ratio in xenografts generated with glioma cell lines. In addition, we also found that the administration of TMZ + THC:CBD at a 1:1 ratio reduced the growth of orthotopic xenografts generated with GICs derived from GBM patients and enhanced the survival of the animals bearing these intracranial xenografts.

Remarkably, the antitumoral effect observed in GICs-derived xenografts was stronger when TMZ was administered together with cannabinoid combinations containing a higher proportion of CBD. These findings support the notion that the administration of TMZ together with THC:CBD combinations – and specifically those containing a higher proportion of CBD – may be therapeutically explored to target the population of GICs in GBM.”

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Optimization Of A Preclinical Therapy Of Cannabinoids In Combination With Temozolomide Against Glioma.

 Biochemical Pharmacology “Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most frequent and aggressive form of brain cancer. These features are explained at least in part by the high resistance exhibited by these tumors to current anticancer therapies. Thus, the development of novel therapeutic approaches is urgently needed to improve the survival of the patients suffering this devastating disease.

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the major active ingredient of marijuana), and other cannabinoids have been shown to exert antitumoral actions in animal models of cancer, including glioma. The mechanism of these anticancer actions relies, at least in part, on the ability of these compounds to stimulate autophagy-mediated apoptosis in tumor cells.

Previous observations from our group demonstrated that local administration of THC (or of THC + CBD at a 1:1 ratio, a mixture that resembles the composition of the cannabinoid-based medicine Sativex®) in combination with Temozolomide, the benchmark agent for the treatment of GBM, synergistically reduces the growth of glioma xenografts.

With the aim of optimizing the possible clinical utilization of cannabinoids in anti-GBM therapies, in this work we explored the anticancer efficacy of the systemic administration of cannabinoids in combination with TMZ in preclinical models of glioma.

Our results show that oral administration of THC+CBD (Sativex-like extracts) in combination with TMZ produces a strong antitumoral effect in both subcutaneous and intracranial glioma cell-derived tumor xenografts. In contrast, combined administration of Sativex-like and BCNU (another alkylating agent used for the treatment of GBM which share structural similarities with the TMZ) did not show a stronger effect than individual treatments.

Altogether, our findings support the notion that the combined administration of TMZ and oral cannabinoids could be therapeutically exploited for the management of GBM.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30125556

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006295218303496

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Current natural therapies in the treatment against glioblastoma.

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“Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive brain tumor, which causes the highest number of deaths worldwide. It is a highly vascularized tumor, infiltrative, and its tumorigenic capacity is exacerbated. All these hallmarks are therapeutic targets in GBM treatment, including surgical removal followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Current therapies have not been sufficient for the effective patient’s management, so the classic therapies have had to expand and incorporate new alternative treatments, including natural compounds.

This review summarizes natural products and their physiological effects in in vitro and in vivo models of GBM, specifically by modulating signaling pathways involved in angiogenesis, cell migration/invasion, cell viability, apoptosis, and chemoresistance. The most important aspects of natural products and their derivatives were described in relation to its antitumoral effects.

As a final result, it can be obtained that within the compounds with more evidence that supports or suggests its clinical use are the cannabinoids, terpenes, and curcumin, because many have been shown to have a significant effect in decreasing the progress of GBM through known mechanisms, such as chemo-sensitization or decrease migration and cell invasion.

Natural compounds emerge as promising therapies to attack the progress of GBM.”

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Cannabinoids as potential new therapy for the treatment of gliomas

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“Gliomas constitute the most frequent and malignant primary brain tumors. Current standard therapeutic strategies (surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapeutics, e.g., temozolomide, carmustin or carboplatin) for their treatment are only palliative and survival diagnosis is normally 6-12 months.
The development of new therapeutic strategies for the management of gliomas is therefore essential.
Interestingly, cannabinoids have been shown to exert antiproliferative effects on a wide spectrum of cells in culture.
Of interest, cannabinoids have displayed a great potency in reducing glioma tumor growth either in vitro or in animal experimental models, curbing the growth of xenografts generated by subcutaneous or intratecal injection of glioma cells in immune-deficient mice.
Moreover, cannabinoids appear to be selective antitumoral agents as they kill glioma cells without affecting the viability of nontransformed counterparts.
A pilot clinical trial on patients with glioblastoma multiforme demonstrated their good safety profile together and remarkable antitumor effects, and may set the basis for further studies aimed at better evaluating the potential anticancer activity of cannabinoids.”
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Cannabinoids as a Promising Therapeutic Approach for the Treatment of Glioblastoma Multiforme: A Literature Review

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“Gliobalstoma multiforme (GBM) or grade 4 astrocytoma is the most malignant form of primary brain tumor. Treatment of glioblastoma is difficult despite of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Patients with glioblastoma survive for less than 12 months.

Considering to biology function of glioblastoma, researchers have recently offered new therapeutic approaches such as cannabinoid therapy for glioblastoma.

Cannabinoids are active compounds of Cannabis sativa that operate in the body similar to endogenous canabinoids –the endocannabinoids- through cell surface receptors.

It is interesting that cannabinoids could exert a wide spectrum from antiproliferative effects in condition of the cell culture, animal models of glioblastoma and clinical trials.

As a result, Cannabinoids seem to modulate intracellular signaling pathways and the endoplasmic reticulum stress response in glioma cells.

Those play antitumoral effects through apoptosis induction and inhibition of glioblastoma angiogenesis.

The goal of this study was to discuss cannabinoid therapy and also what cellular mechanisms are involved in the tumoricidal effect of the cannabinoids.

In this review article, we will focus on cannabinoids, their receptor dependent functional roles against glioblastoma acccording to growth, angiogenesis, metastasis, and future purposes in exploring new possible therapeutic opportunities.”

http://journals.sbmu.ac.ir/Neuroscience/article/view/13655

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Targeting the endocannabinoid system as a potential anticancer approach.

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“The endocannabinoid system is currently under intense investigation due to the therapeutic potential of cannabinoid-based drugs as treatment options for a broad variety of diseases including cancer.

Besides the canonical endocannabinoid system that includes the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 and the endocannabinoids N-arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, recent investigations suggest that other fatty acid derivatives, receptors, enzymes, and lipid transporters likewise orchestrate this system as components of the endocannabinoid system when defined as an extended signaling network.

As such, fatty acids acting at cannabinoid receptors (e.g. 2-arachidonoyl glyceryl ether [noladin ether], N-arachidonoyldopamine) as well as endocannabinoid-like substances that do not elicit cannabinoid receptor activation (e.g. N-palmitoylethanolamine, N-oleoylethanolamine) have raised interest as anticancerogenic substances.

Furthermore, the endocannabinoid-degrading enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase and monoacylglycerol lipase, lipid transport proteins of the fatty acid binding protein family, additional cannabinoid-activated G protein-coupled receptors, members of the transient receptor potential family as well as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors have been considered as targets of antitumoral cannabinoid activity. Therefore, this review focused on the antitumorigenic effects induced upon modulation of this extended endocannabinoid network.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29390896  http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03602532.2018.1428344?journalCode=idmr20

“Anticancer mechanisms of cannabinoids”   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4791144/
“Cannabinoids as Anticancer Drugs.”
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Involvement of Cannabinoid Signaling in Vincristine-Induced Gastrointestinal Dysmotility in the Rat.

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“In different models of paralytic ileus, cannabinoid receptors are overexpressed and endogenous cannabinoids are massively released, contributing to gastrointestinal dysmotility. The antitumoral drug vincristine depresses gastrointestinal motility and a similar mechanism could participate in this effect. Therefore, our aim was to determine, using CB1 and CB2 antagonists, whether an increased endocannabinoid tone is involved in vincristine-induced gastrointestinal ileus.

Key results: Vincristine induced damage to the mucosa of ileum and colon and reduced gastrointestinal motor function at 0.5 mg/kg. The effect on motor function was particularly evident when the study started 24 h after administration. AM251, but not AM630, significantly prevented vincristine effect, particularly in the small intestine, when administered thrice. AM251 alone did not significantly alter gastrointestinal motility.

Conclusions: The fact that AM251, but not AM630, is capable of reducing the effect of vincristine suggests that, like in other experimental models of paralytic ileus, an increased cannabinoid tone develops and is at least partially responsible for the alterations induced by the antitumoral drug on gastrointestinal motor function. Thus, CB1 antagonists might be useful to prevent/treat ileus induced by vincristine.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28220074

“Paralytic ileus: Obstruction of the intestine due to paralysis of the intestinal muscles.”  http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=7886

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Therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in counteracting chemotherapy-induced adverse effects: an exploratory review.

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“Cannabinoids (the active constituents of Cannabis sativa) and their derivatives have got intense attention during recent years because of their extensive pharmacological properties. Cannabinoids first developed as successful agents for alleviating chemotherapy associated nausea and vomiting. Recent investigations revealed that cannabinoids have a wide range of therapeutic effects such as appetite stimulation, inhibition of nausea and emesis, suppression of chemotherapy or radiotherapy-associated bone loss, chemotherapy-induced nephrotoxicity and cardiotoxicity, pain relief, mood amelioration, and last but not the least relief from insomnia. In this exploratory review, we scrutinize the potential of cannabinoids to counteract chemotherapy-induced side effects. Moreover, some novel and yet important pharmacological aspects of cannabinoids such as antitumoral effects will be discussed.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25504799

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Cannabinoids Inhibit Glioma Cell Invasion by Down-regulating Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 Expression

Cancer Research: 68 (6)

“Cannabinoids, the active components of Cannabis sativa L. and their derivatives, inhibit tumor growth in laboratory animals by inducing apoptosis of tumor cells and impairing tumor angiogenesis.

It has also been reported that these compounds inhibit tumor cell spreading.

Here, we evaluated the effect of cannabinoids on matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and its effect on tumor cell invasion.

Local administration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active ingredient of cannabis, down-regulated MMP-2 expression in gliomas generated in mice.

This cannabinoid-induced inhibition of MMP-2 expression in gliomas.

As MMP-2 up-regulation is associated with high progression and poor prognosis of gliomas and many other tumors, MMP-2 down-regulation constitutes a new hallmark of cannabinoid antitumoral activity.

As selective CB2 receptor activation to mice has been shown to inhibit the growth and angiogenesis of gliomas, skin carcinomas and melanomas, our observations further support the possibility of finding cannabinoid-based antitumoral strategies devoid of nondesired psychotropic side effects.”

http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/68/6/1945

 

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