Emerging role of cannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoid receptor 1/cannabinoid receptor 2 receptor agonists in cancer treatment and chemotherapy-associated cancer management

Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics“Cannabis was extensively utilized for its medicinal properties till the 19th century. A steep decline in its medicinal usage was observed later due to its emergence as an illegal recreational drug.

Advances in technology and scientific findings led to the discovery of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis, that further led to the discovery of endogenous cannabinoids system consisting of G-protein-coupled receptors – cannabinoid receptor 1 and cannabinoid receptor 2 along with their ligands, mainly anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol.  Endocannabinoid (EC) is shown to be a modulator not only for physiological functions but also for the immune system, endocrine network, and central nervous system.

Medicinal research and meta-data analysis over the last few decades have shown a significant potential for both THC and cannabidiol (CBD) to exert palliative effects. People suffering from many forms of advanced stages of cancers undergo chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting followed by severe and chronic neuropathic pain and weight loss.

THC and CBD exhibit effective analgesic, anxiolytic, and appetite-stimulating effect on patients suffering from cancer. Drugs currently available in the market to treat such chemotherapy-induced cancer-related ailments are Sativex (GW Pharmaceutical), Dronabinol (Unimed Pharmaceuticals), and Nabilone (Valeant Pharmaceuticals).

Apart from exerting palliative effects, THC also shows promising role in the treatment of cancer growth, neurodegenerative diseases (multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease), and alcohol addiction and hence should be exploited for potential benefits.

The current review discusses the nature and role of CB receptors, specific applications of cannabinoids, and major studies that have assessed the role of cannabinoids in cancer management.

Specific targeting of cannabinoid receptors can be used to manage severe side effects during chemotherapy, palliative care, and overall cancer management. Furthermore, research evidences on cannabinoids have suggested tumor inhibiting and suppressing properties which warrant reconsidering legality of the substance.

Studies on CB1 and CB2 receptors, in case of cancers, have demonstrated the psychoactive constituents of cannabinoids to be potent against tumor growth.

Interestingly, studies have also shown that activation of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors by their respective synthetic agonists tends to limit human cancer cell growth, suggesting the role of the endocannabinoid system as a novel target for treatment of cancers.

Further explorations are required to exploit cannabinoids for an effective cancer management.”

http://www.cancerjournal.net/preprintarticle.asp?id=263538

“Could Cannabis Kill Cancer Cells? A New Study Looks Promising”  https://www.portlandmercury.com/blogtown/2019/08/15/26977361/could-cannabis-kill-cancer-cells-a-new-study-looks-promising

“Study Reviews How Marijuana Compounds Inhibit Tumor Growth And Kill Cancer Cells” https://www.marijuanamoment.net/study-reviews-how-marijuana-compounds-inhibit-tumor-growth-and-kill-cancer-cells/

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Cannabinoids and inflammation: Implications for People Living with HIV.

Image result for wolters kluwer “Thanks to the success of modern antiretroviral therapy (ART), people living with HIV (PLWH) have life expectancies which approach that of persons in the general population. However, despite the ability of ART to suppress viral replication, PLWH have high levels of chronic systemic inflammation which drives the development of comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and non-AIDS associated malignancies.

Historically, cannabis has played an important role in alleviating many symptoms experienced by persons with advanced HIV infection in the pre-ART era and continues to be used by many PLWH in the ART era, though for different reasons.

Δ-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the phytocannabinoids which have received most attention for their medicinal properties. Due to their ability to suppress lymphocyte proliferation and inflammatory cytokine production, there is interest in examining their therapeutic potential as immunomodulators.

CB2 receptor activation has been shown in vitro to reduce CD4 T-cell infection by CXCR4-tropic HIV and to reduce HIV replication.

Studies involving SIV-infected macaques have shown that Δ-THC can reduce morbidity and mortality and has favourable effects on the gut mucosal immunity. Furthermore, ΔTHC administration was associated with reduced lymph node fibrosis and diminished levels of SIV proviral DNA in spleens of rhesus macaques compared with placebo-treated macaques.

In humans, cannabis use does not induce a reduction in peripheral CD4 T-cell count or loss of HIV virological control in cross-sectional studies. Rather, cannabis use in ART-treated PLWH was associated with decreased levels of T-cell activation, inflammatory monocytes and pro-inflammatory cytokines secretion, all of which are related to HIV disease progression and co-morbidities.

Randomized clinical trials should provide further insights into the ability of cannabis and cannabinoid-based medicines to attenuate HIV-associated inflammation. In turn, these findings may provide a novel means to reduce morbidity and mortality in PLWH as adjunctive agents to ART.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31408029

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00002030-900000000-96855

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Bones and Joints: The Effects of Cannabinoids on the Skeleton.

Image result for j clin endocrinol metab“This paper reviews the endocannabinoid system and focuses on the role of endocannabinoids in bone metabolism and their potential use in the management of conditions associated with bone loss.

CONTEXT:

The endocannabinoid system uses tissue-specific lipid ligands and G protein-coupled transmembrane receptors to regulate neurological, metabolic, and immune responses. Recent studies demonstrate that the endocannabinoid system influences bone metabolism. With the increasing use of endocannabinoid mimetics, e.g. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), endocannabinoids’ involvement in bone growth and remodeling has become clinically relevant.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION:

This literature review is based upon a search of Pubmed and Google Scholar databases, as of June 2019, for all English-language publications relating to cannabinoids and bone. We evaluated retrieved articles for relevance, experimental design, data acquisition, statistical analysis, and conclusions.

EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS:

Preclinical studies establish a role for endocannabinoids in bone metabolism. These studies yield complex and often contradictory results attributed to differences in the specific experimental model examined. Studies using human cells or subjects are limited.

CONCLUSIONS:

In vitro and animal models document that endocannabinoids participate in bone biology. The relevance of these observations to humans is not clear. The increasing chronic use of medical and recreational cannabis underscores the need to better understand the role of endocannabinoids in human bone metabolism. Moreover, it is important to evaluate the role of endocannabinoids as a therapeutic target to prevent and treat disorders associated with bone loss.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31393556

“[The endocannabinoid system and bone].”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27734700

“Joint problems arising from lack of repair mechanisms: can cannabinoids help?”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29574720

“Cannabinoids and bone regeneration.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30702341

“Cannabinoids and the skeleton: from marijuana to reversal of bone loss.”  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19634029

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Application device for THC:CBD oromucosal spray in the management of resistant spasticity: pre-production testing.

 Publication Cover“Patients with multiple sclerosis spasticity (MSS) and upper limb/hand impairment who are taking 9-delta-tetrahydrocannabinol:cannabidiol (THC:CBD) oromucosal spray (Sativex®) may have difficulty self-administering their medication, possibly limiting adherence and treatment effectiveness.

A Class I EU device is available to support administration of THC:CBD spray. Pre-production testing was undertaken in a patient sample.

Results: Fifteen patients participated. Mean treatment time with THC:CBD spray was 4 (range: 0.1-6.1) years. 87% of participants ‘always’, ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’ had hand impairment, and 53% reported difficulty administering THC:CBD spray. Participants reported better application using the device (73%), with less strength required (54%). Most participants (93%) considered the instruction leaflet to be clear and many (66%) expressed interest in using the device. Most HCPs (93%) did not foresee any difficulties in use of the device.

Conclusion: The proposed adherence device was useful to address self-application difficulties with THC:CBD spray in our sample. Providing the device to MSS patients with upper limb/hand spasticity impairment may restore autonomy and support adherence to THC:CBD spray.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31393179

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17434440.2019.1653182?journalCode=ierd20

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Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol suppresses monocyte-mediated astrocyte production of MCP-1 and IL-6 in a TLR7-stimulated human co-culture.

Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics“Cannabis is widely used in the United States with an estimated prevalence of 9.5%. Certain cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa, in particular, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), possess immune modulating and anti-inflammatory activity. Depending on the context, the anti-inflammatory activity of cannabinoids may be beneficial, such as in treating inflammatory diseases, or detrimental to normal immune defense against pathogens. The potential beneficial impact of cannabinoids on chronic neuroinflammation has gained recent attention. Monocyte migration to the brain has been implicated as a key event in chronic neuroinflammation and in the etiology of central nervous system diseases including viral infection (e.g., HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder). In the brain, monocytes can contribute to neuroinflammation through interactions with astrocytes, including inducing astrocyte secretion of cytokines and chemokines. In a human co-culture system, monocyte-derived IL-1β due to toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7)-activation, has been identified to promote astrocyte production of MCP-1 and IL-6. THC treatment of TLR7-stimulated co-culture suppressed monocyte secretion of IL-1β resulting in decreased astrocyte production of MCP-1 and IL-6. Furthermore, THC displayed direct inhibition of monocytes, as TLR7-stimulated monocyte monocultures treated with THC also showed suppressed IL-1β production. The cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) agonist, JWH-015, impaired monocyte IL-1β production similar to that of THC, suggesting THC is, in part, acting through CB2. THC also suppressed key elements of the IL-1β production pathway, including IL1B mRNA levels and caspase-1 activity. Collectively, this study demonstrates that the anti-inflammatory properties of THC suppress TLR7-induced monocyte secretion of IL-1β, through CB2, which results in decreased astrocyte secretion of MCP-1 and IL-6.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: As cannabis use is highly prevalent in the United States and has putative anti-inflammatory properties, it is important to investigate the effect of cannabinoids on immune cell function. Furthermore, cannabinoids have garnered particular interest due to their potential beneficial effects on attenuating viral-induced chronic neuroinflammation. This study utilized a primary human co-culture system to demonstrate that the major psychotropic cannabinoid in cannabis, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and a cannabinoid receptor-2 (CB2) selective agonist, suppress specific monocyte-mediated astrocyte inflammatory responses. In the context of viral-induced chronic neuroinflammation, the findings presented here suggest that cannabinoids via CB2 ligation may have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31383729

http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/early/2019/08/05/jpet.119.260661

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Combination of cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), mitigates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) by altering the gut microbiome.

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity“Currently, a combination of marijuana cannabinoids including delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) is used as a drug to treat muscle spasticity in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).

Because these cannabinoids can also suppress inflammation, it is unclear whether such patients benefit from suppression of neuroinflammation and if so, what is the mechanism through which cannabinoids act.

In the currently study, we used a murine model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), to study the role of gut microbiota in the attenuation of clinical signs of paralysis and inflammation caused by cannabinoids.

THC+CBD treatment attenuated EAE and caused significant decrease in inflammatory cytokines such as IL-17 and IFN-γ while promoting the induction of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-10 and TGF-β. Use of 16S rRNA sequencing on bacterial DNA extracted from the gut revealed that EAE mice showed high abundance of mucin degrading bacterial species, such as Akkermansia muciniphila (A.muc), which was significantly reduced after THC+CBD treatment.

Fecal Material Transfer (FMT) experiments confirmed that THC+CBD-mediated changes in the microbiome play a critical role in attenuating EAE. In silico computational metabolomics revealed that LPS biosynthesis, a key component in gram-negative bacteria such as A.muc, was found to be elevated in EAE mice which was confirmed by demonstrating higher levels of LPS in the brain, while treatment with THC+CBD reversed this trend. EAE mice treated with THC+CBD also had significantly higher levels of short chain fatty acids such as butyric, isovaleric, and valeric acids compared to naïve or disease controls.

Collectively, our data suggest that cannabinoids may attenuate EAE and suppress neuroinflammation by preventing microbial dysbiosis seen during EAE and promoting healthy gut microbiota.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31356922

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159119306476?via%3Dihub

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Targeting Cannabinoid Signaling in the Immune System: “High”-ly Exciting Questions, Possibilities, and Challenges

Image result for frontiers in immunology“It is well known that certain active ingredients of the plants of Cannabis genus, i.e., the “phytocannabinoids” [pCBs; e.g., (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), (−)-cannabidiol, etc.] can influence a wide array of biological processes, and the human body is able to produce endogenous analogs of these substances [“endocannabinoids” (eCB), e.g., arachidonoylethanolamine (anandamide, AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG), etc.]. These ligands, together with multiple receptors (e.g., CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, etc.), and a complex enzyme and transporter apparatus involved in the synthesis and degradation of the ligands constitute the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a recently emerging regulator of several physiological processes. The ECS is widely expressed in the human body, including several members of the innate and adaptive immune system, where eCBs, as well as several pCBs were shown to deeply influence immune functions thereby regulating inflammation, autoimmunity, antitumor, as well as antipathogen immune responses, etc. Based on this knowledge, many in vitro and in vivo studies aimed at exploiting the putative therapeutic potential of cannabinoid signaling in inflammation-accompanied diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis) or in organ transplantation, and to dissect the complex immunological effects of medical and “recreational” marijuana consumption. Thus, the objective of the current article is (i) to summarize the most recent findings of the field; (ii) to highlight the putative therapeutic potential of targeting cannabinoid signaling; (iii) to identify open questions and key challenges; and (iv) to suggest promising future directions for cannabinoid-based drug development.

Active Components of Cannabis sativa (Hemp)—Phytocannabinoids (pCBs) and Beyond

It is known since ancient times that consumption of different parts of the plant Cannabis sativa can lead to psychotropic effects. Moreover, mostly, but not exclusively because of its potent analgesic actions, it was considered to be beneficial in the management of several diseases. Nowadays it is a common knowledge that these effects were mediated by the complex mixture of biologically active substances produced by the plant. So far, at least 545 active compounds have been identified in it, among which, the best-studied ones are the so-called pCBs. It is also noteworthy that besides these compounds, ca. 140 different terpenes [including the potent and selective CB2 agonist sesquiterpene β-caryophyllene (BCP)], multiple flavonoids, alkanes, sugars, non-cannabinoid phenols, phenylpropanoids, steroids, fatty acids, and various nitrogenous compounds can be found in the plant, individual biological actions of which are mostly still nebulous. Among the so far identified > 100 pCBs, the psychotropic (−)-trans9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the non-psychotropic (−)-cannabidiol (CBD) are the best-studied ones, exerting a wide-variety of biological actions [including but not exclusively: anticonvulsive, analgesic, antiemetic, and anti inflammatory effects]. Of great importance, pCBs have been shown to modulate the activity of a plethora of cellular targets, extending their impact far beyond the “classical” (see above) cannabinoid signaling. Indeed, besides being agonists [or in some cases even antagonists of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, some pCBs were shown to differentially modulate the activity of certain TRP channels, PPARs, serotonin, α adrenergic, adenosine or opioid receptors, and to inhibit COX and lipoxygenase enzymes, FAAH, EMT, etc.. Moreover, from a clinical point-of-view, it should also be noted that pCBs can indirectly modify pharmacokinetics of multiple drugs (e.g., cyclosporine A) by interacting with several cytochrome P 450 (CYP) enzymes. Taken together, pCBs can be considered as multitarget polypharmacons, each of them having unique “molecular fingerprints” created by the characteristic activation/inhibition pattern of its locally available cellular targets.

Concluding Remarks—Lessons to Learn from Cannabis

Research efforts of the past few decades have unambiguously evidenced that ECS is one of the central orchestrators of both innate and adaptive immune systems, and that pure pCBs as well as complex cannabis-derivatives can also deeply influence immune responses. Although, many open questions await to be answered, pharmacological modulation of the (endo)cannabinoid signaling, and restoration of the homeostatic eCB tone of the tissues augur to be very promising future directions in the management of several pathological inflammation-accompanied diseases. Moreover, in depth analysis of the (quite complex) mechanism-of-action of the most promising pCBs is likely to shed light to previously unknown immune regulatory mechanisms and can therefore pave new “high”-ways toward developing completely novel classes of therapeutic agents to manage a wide-variety of diseases.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2017.01487/full

www.frontiersin.org

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From Cannabinoids and Neurosteroids to Statins and the Ketogenic Diet: New Therapeutic Avenues in Rett Syndrome?

Image result for frontiers in neuroscience “Rett syndrome (RTT) is an X-linked neurodevelopmental disorder caused mainly by mutations in the MECP2 gene, being one of the leading causes of mental disability in females.

Epilepsy is one of the most common symptoms in RTT, occurring in 60 to 80% of RTT cases, being associated with worsening of other symptoms. At this point, no cure for RTT is available and there is a pressing need for the discovery of new drug candidates to treat its severe symptoms.

New and exciting evidence has been gathered and the etiopathogenesis of this complex, severe and untreatable disease is slowly being unfolded. Advances in gene editing techniques have prompted cure-oriented research in RTT. Nonetheless, at this point, finding a cure is a distant reality, highlighting the importance of further investigating the basic pathological mechanisms of this disease.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31333401

“Very recently, a new study using CBDV has confirmed the potential of this particular phytocannabinoid in RTT.  The promising antiseizure effects of CBD, even in cases of refractory-epilepsy, observed in both clinical trials with humans and in laboratory animals, the effects of combinations of CBD and Δ9-THC in controlling muscle spasticity and motor symptoms, and the positive results of CBDV administration in two different mouse models of RTT, place cannabinoids as a viable therapeutic strategy in RTT. Moreover, CBD positively modifies impairments in motor, cognitive and social processes in animal models, further highlighting the potential of cannabinoid molecules to tackle RTT-symptomology.”

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2019.00680/full

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Cannabidiol binding and negative allosteric modulation at the cannabinoid type 1 receptor in the presence of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol: An In Silico study.

Image result for plos one “Recent evidence has raised in discussion the possibility that cannabidiol can act as a negative allosteric modulator of the cannabinoid type 1 receptor. Here we have used computational methods to study the modulation exerted by cannabidiol on the effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in the cannabinoid receptor type 1 and the possibility of direct receptor blockade. We propose a putative allosteric binding site that is located in the N-terminal region of receptor, partially overlapping the orthosteric binding site. Molecular dynamics simulations reveled a coordinated movement involving the outward rotation of helixes 1 and 2 and subsequent expansion of the orthosteric binding site upon cannabidiol binding. Finally, changes in the cytoplasmic region and high helix 8 mobility were related to impaired receptor internalization. Together, these results offer a possible explanation to how cannabidiol can directly modulate effects of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on the cannabinoid receptor type 1.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31335889

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0220025

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Dosage Related Efficacy and Tolerability of Cannabidiol in Children With Treatment-Resistant Epileptic Encephalopathy: Preliminary Results of the CARE-E Study.

 Image result for frontiers in neurology“There is uncertainty regarding the appropriate dose of Cannabidiol (CBD) for childhood epilepsy.

We present the preliminary data of seven participants from the Cannabidiol in Children with Refractory Epileptic Encephalopathy (CARE-E) study.

Methods: The study is an open-label, prospective, dose-escalation trial. Participants received escalating doses of a Cannabis Herbal Extract (CHE) preparation of 1:20 Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): CBD up to 10-12 mg CBD/kg/day. Seizure frequency was monitored in daily logs, participants underwent regular electroencephalograms, and parents filled out modified Quality of Life in Childhood Epilepsy (QOLCE) and Side Effect rating scale questionnaires. Steady-state trough levels (Css, Min) of selected cannabinoids were quantified.

Results: All seven participants tolerated the CHE up to 10-12 mg CBD/kg/day and had improvements in seizure frequency and QOLCE scores. CSS, Min plasma levels for CBD, THC, and cannabichromene (CBC) showed dose-independent pharmacokinetics in all but one participant. CSS, Min CBD levels associated with a >50% reduction in seizures and seizure freedom were lower than those reported previously with purified CBD. In most patients, CSS, Min levels of THC remained lower than what would be expected to cause intoxication.

Conclusion: The preliminary data suggest an initial CBD target dose of 5-6 mg/kg/day when a 1:20 THC:CBD CHE is used. Possible non-linear pharmacokinetics of CBD and CBC needs investigation. The reduction in seizure frequency seen suggests improved seizure control when a whole plant CHE is used. Plasma THC levels suggest a low risk of THC intoxication when a 1:20 THC:CBD CHE is used in doses up to 12 mg/kg CBD/kg/day.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31333569

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2019.00716/full

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