“Aberrant proliferation and migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) have been closely linked to the development and progression of cardiovascular and cancer diseases.
The cytoprotective enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) has been shown to mediate anti-proliferative and anti-migratory effects in VSMC. This study investigates the effect of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, on HO-1 expression and disease-associated functions of human umbilical artery smooth muscle cells (HUASMC).
HO-1 protein and mRNA were significantly increased by CBD in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. Although the expression of several cannabinoid-activated receptors (CB1, CB2, G protein-coupled receptor 55, transient receptor potential vanilloid 1) was verified in HUASMC, CBD was shown to induce HO-1 via none of these targets. Instead, the CBD-mediated increase in HO-1 protein was reversed by the glutathione precursor N-acetylcysteine, indicating the participation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) signaling; this was confirmed by flow cytometry-based ROS detection.
CBD-induced HO-1 expression was accompanied by inhibition of growth factor-mediated proliferation and migration of HUASMC. However, neither inhibition of HO-1 activity nor knockdown of HO-1 protein attenuated CBD-mediated anti-proliferative and anti-migratory effects. Indeed, inhibition or depletion of HO-1 resulted in induction of apoptosis and intensified CBD-mediated effects on proliferation and migration.
Collectively, this work provides the first indication of CBD-mediated enhancement of HO-1 in VSMC and potential protective effects against aberrant VSMC proliferation and migration. On the other hand, our data argue against a role of HO-1 in CBD-mediated inhibition of proliferation and migration while substantiating its anti-apoptotic role in oxidative stress-mediated cell fate.”