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      Towards the use of cannabinoids as antitumour agents.

      Nature reviews. Cancer

      physiopathology, drug therapy, Neoplasms, Humans, Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, drug effects, Cell Death, therapeutic use, pharmacology, Cannabinoids, metabolism, Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators, Antineoplastic Agents, Animals, Angiogenesis Inhibitors

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          Abstract

          Various reports have shown that cannabinoids (the active components of marijuana and their derivatives) can reduce tumour growth and progression in animal models of cancer, in addition to their well-known palliative effects on some cancer-associated symptoms. This Opinion article discusses our current understanding of cannabinoids as antitumour agents, focusing on recent insights into the molecular mechanisms of action, including emerging resistance mechanisms and opportunities for combination therapy approaches. Such knowledge is required for the optimization of preclinical cannabinoid-based therapies and for the preliminary clinical testing that is currently underway.

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          Most cited references 81

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          Molecular characterization of a peripheral receptor for cannabinoids.

          The major active ingredient of marijuana, delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC), has been used as a psychoactive agent for thousands of years. Marijuana, and delta 9-THC, also exert a wide range of other effects including analgesia, anti-inflammation, immunosuppression, anticonvulsion, alleviation of intraocular pressure in glaucoma, and attenuation of vomiting. The clinical application of cannabinoids has, however, been limited by their psychoactive effects, and this has led to interest in the biochemical bases of their action. Progress stemmed initially from the synthesis of potent derivatives of delta 9-THC, and more recently from the cloning of a gene encoding a G-protein-coupled receptor for cannabinoids. This receptor is expressed in the brain but not in the periphery, except for a low level in testes. It has been proposed that the nonpsychoactive effects of cannabinoids are either mediated centrally or through direct interaction with other, non-receptor proteins. Here we report the cloning of a receptor for cannabinoids that is not expressed in the brain but rather in macrophages in the marginal zone of spleen.
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            Structure of a cannabinoid receptor and functional expression of the cloned cDNA.

            Marijuana and many of its constituent cannabinoids influence the central nervous system (CNS) in a complex and dose-dependent manner. Although CNS depression and analgesia are well documented effects of the cannabinoids, the mechanisms responsible for these and other cannabinoid-induced effects are not so far known. The hydrophobic nature of these substances has suggested that cannabinoids resemble anaesthetic agents in their action, that is, they nonspecifically disrupt cellular membranes. Recent evidence, however, has supported a mechanism involving a G protein-coupled receptor found in brain and neural cell lines, and which inhibits adenylate cyclase activity in a dose-dependent, stereoselective and pertussis toxin-sensitive manner. Also, the receptor is more responsive to psychoactive cannabinoids than to non-psychoactive cannabinoids. Here we report the cloning and expression of a complementary DNA that encodes a G protein-coupled receptor with all of these properties. Its messenger RNA is found in cell lines and regions of the brain that have cannabinoid receptors. These findings suggest that this protein is involved in cannabinoid-induced CNS effects (including alterations in mood and cognition) experienced by users of marijuana.
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              Life and death partners: apoptosis, autophagy and the cross-talk between them.

              It is not surprising that the demise of a cell is a complex well-controlled process. Apoptosis, the first genetically programmed death process identified, has been extensively studied and its contribution to the pathogenesis of disease well documented. Yet, apoptosis does not function alone to determine a cell's fate. More recently, autophagy, a process in which de novo-formed membrane-enclosed vesicles engulf and consume cellular components, has been shown to engage in a complex interplay with apoptosis. In some cellular settings, it can serve as a cell survival pathway, suppressing apoptosis, and in others, it can lead to death itself, either in collaboration with apoptosis or as a back-up mechanism when the former is defective. The molecular regulators of both pathways are inter-connected; numerous death stimuli are capable of activating either pathway, and both pathways share several genes that are critical for their respective execution. The cross-talk between apoptosis and autophagy is therefore quite complex, and sometimes contradictory, but surely critical to the overall fate of the cell. Furthermore, the cross-talk is a key factor in the outcome of death-related pathologies such as cancer, its development and treatment.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                10.1038/nrc3247
                22555283

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