J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2021 Jul 14. doi: 10.1007/s00432-021-03710-7. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: Cannabinoids are a group of terpenophenolic compounds derived from the Cannabis sativa L. plant. There is a growing body of evidence from cell culture and animal studies in support of cannabinoids possessing anticancer properties.
METHOD: A database search of peer reviewed articles published in English as full texts between January 1970 and April 2021 in Google Scholar, MEDLINE, PubMed and Web of Science was undertaken. References of relevant literature were searched to identify additional studies to construct a narrative literature review of oncological effects of cannabinoids in pre-clinical and clinical studies in various cancer types.
RESULTS: Phyto-, endogenous and synthetic cannabinoids demonstrated antitumour effects both in vitro and in vivo. However, these effects are dependent on cancer type, the concentration and preparation of the cannabinoid and the abundance of receptor targets. The mechanism of action of synthetic cannabinoids, (-)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) has mainly been described via the traditional cannabinoid receptors; CB1 and CB2, but reports have also indicated evidence of activity through GPR55, TRPM8 and other ion channels including TRPA1, TRPV1 and TRPV2.
CONCLUSION: Cannabinoids have shown to be efficacious both as a single agent and in combination with antineoplastic drugs. These effects have occurred through various receptors and ligands and modulation of signalling pathways involved in hallmarks of cancer pathology. There is a need for further studies to characterise its mode of action at the molecular level and to delineate efficacious dosage and route of administration in addition to synergistic regimes.