CBD and Cancer
During the last decade, several studies have now shown that CB1 and CB2 receptor agonists can act as direct antitumor agents in a variety of aggressive cancers. In addition to THC, there are many other cannabinoids found in cannabis, and a majority produces little to no psychoactivity due to the inability to activate cannabinoid receptors. For example, the second most abundant cannabinoid in cannabis is the non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD). Using animal models, CBD has been shown to inhibit the progression of many types of cancer including glioblastoma, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer. This review will center on mechanisms by which CBD, and other plant-derived cannabinoids inefficient at activating cannabinoid receptors, inhibit tumor cell viability, invasion, metastasis, angiogenesis, and the stem-like potential of cancer cells. We will also discuss the ability of non-psychoactive cannabinoids to induce autophagy and apoptotic-mediated cancer cell death, and enhance the activity of first-line agents commonly used in cancer treatment.
Glioblastoma, also known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), is the most aggressive cancer that begins within the brain. Signs and symptoms of glioblastoma are initially non-specific. They may include headaches, personality changes, nausea, and symptoms similar to those of a stroke. Worsening of symptoms is often rapid. This can progress to unconsciousness.
Leukemia, also spelled leukaemia, is a group of cancers that usually begin in the bone marrow and result in high numbers of abnormal white blood cells. These white blood cells are not fully developed and are called blasts or leukemia cells. Symptoms may include bleeding and bruising problems, feeling tired, fever, and an increased risk of infections. These symptoms occur due to a lack of normal blood cells. Diagnosis is typically made by blood tests or bone marrow biopsy.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of the white blood cells and is typically well treated with combination chemotherapy, with a remission state after 5 years of 94% in children and 30-40% in adults. To establish how aggressive the disease is, further chromosome testing is required to determine whether the cancer is myeloblastic and involves neutrophils, eosinophils or basophils, or lymphoblastic involving B or T lymphocytes. This case study is on a 14-year-old patient diagnosed with a very aggressive form of ALL (positive for the Philadelphia chromosome mutation). A standard bone marrow transplant, aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy were revoked, with treatment being deemed a failure after 34 months. Without any other solutions provided by conventional approaches aside from palliation, the family administered cannabinoid extracts orally to the patient. Cannabinoid resin extract is used as an effective treatment for ALL with a positive Philadelphia chromosome mutation and indications of dose-dependent disease control.
Lung cancer, also known as lung carcinoma, is a malignant lung tumor characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in tissues of the lung. If left untreated, this growth can spread beyond the lung by the process of metastasis into nearby tissue or other parts of the body. Most cancers that start in the lung, known as primary lung cancers, are carcinomas. The two main types are small-cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) and non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). The most common symptoms are coughing (including coughing up blood), weight loss, shortness of breath, and chest pains.
Cannabinoids have been shown to promote the expression of the intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) on lung cancer cells as part of their anti-invasive and antimetastatic action. Altogether, data demonstrate cannabinoid-induced upregulation of ICAM-1 on lung cancer cells to be responsible for increased cancer cell lysis by LAK cells. These findings provide proof for a novel antitumorigenic mechanism of cannabinoids.
Cervical cancer is a cancer arising from the cervix. It is due to the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Early on, typically no symptoms are seen. Later symptoms may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, or pain during sexual intercourse. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cervical_cancer)
Lukhele et al researched the effects Cannabis sativa and cannabidiol have on cervical cancer cell growth. Cannabidiol and Cannabis sativa showed an increase in cancer cell death. They looked at three types of cells involved in cervical cancer; HeLa, SiHa, and ME-180. Cannabis sativa and cannabidiol depleted ATP in the cervical cancer cells, showing anti-proliferation effects. Their work compared the effects of Cannabis sativa and cannabidiol to determine if cannabidiol is more effective than other compounds found in cannabis. Cannabis sativa can induce apoptosis with or without cell cycle arrest, while cannabidiol is able to induce apoptosis without cell cycle arrest (Lukhele et al., 2016)
Prostate cancer, also known as carcinoma of the prostate, is the development of cancer in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow relatively quickly. The cancer cells may spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes. It may initially cause no symptoms. In later stages it can lead to difficulty urinating, blood in the urine, or pain in the pelvis, back or when urinating. A disease known as benign prostatic hyperplasia may produce similar symptoms. Other late symptoms may include feeling tired due to low levels of red blood cells. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostate_cancer
Treatment with endocannabinoids resulted in an increase in the percentage of apoptotic cells as determined by Annexin V assays and caused an increase in the levels of activated caspase-3 and a reduction in the levels of Bcl-2 confirming that the reduction in cell viability noted in the MTT assay was caused by the activation of the apoptotic pathway. Finally, we observed that endocannabinoid treatment activated the Erk pathway and at the same time, produced a decrease in the activation levels of the Akt pathway. Based on these results, we suggest that endocannabinoids may be a beneficial option for the treatment of prostate cancer that has become nonresponsive to common therapies. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25606819
Metastases are known to be responsible for approximately 90% of breast cancer-related deaths. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) is involved not only in inflammatory processes, but also in the metastasis of cancer cells; it is expressed in 40% of human invasive breast cancers.
To comprehensively analyze the effects of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), a selective COX-2 inhibitor found in the fiber-type cannabis plant (Takeda et al., 2008), on COX-2 expression and the genes involved in metastasis, we performed a DNA microarray analysis of human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells, which are invasive breast cancer cells that express high levels of COX-2, treated with CBDA for 48 hr at 25 µM. The results obtained revealed that COX-2 and Id-1, a positive regulator of breast cancer metastasis, were down-regulated (0.19-fold and 0.52-fold, respectively), while SHARP1 (or BHLHE41), a suppressor of breast cancer metastasis, was up-regulated (1.72-fold) and CHIP (or STUB1) was unaffected (1.03-fold).
Taken together, the results obtained here demonstrated that i) CBDA had dual inhibitory effects on COX-2 through down-regulation and enzyme inhibition, and ii) CBDA may possess the ability to suppress genes that are positively involved in the metastasis of cancer cells in vitro. (Takeda 2014)
Melanoma, also known as malignant melanoma, is a type of cancer that develops from the pigment-containing cells known as melanocytes. Melanomas typically occur in the skin but may rarely occur in the mouth, intestines, or eye.
Studies were aimed at clarifying whether cannabinoid–type 1 (CB1) receptor may function as tumor-promoting or -suppressing signal in human cutaneous melanoma. CB1 receptor expression was measured in human melanoma cell lines by real-time PCR. A genetic deletion of CB1 receptors in selected melanoma cells was carried out by using three different short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs). Findings of this study suggest that CB1 receptor might function as tumor-promoting signal in humancutaneous melanoma.