August 2, 2014, A new study published last week by the journal Biochemical Pharmacology, and published online by the National Institute of Health, has found that cannabinoids can increase a cancer cell’s susceptibility to cytolysis, which occurs when a cell bursts due to an imbalance.
“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”, says Burkhard Hinz, the study’s lead author. “Using lung cancer cell lines (A549, H460) and metastatic cells derived from a lung cancer patient, the present study addressed the impact of cannabinoid-induced ICAM-1 on cancer cell adhesion to lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cells and LAK cell-mediated cytotoxicity.”
He continues; “Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, enhanced the susceptibility of cancer cells to adhere to and subsequently lysed [the breaking down of a cell] by LAK cells, with both effects being reversed by a neutralizing ICAM-1 antibody. Increased cancer cell lysis by CBD was likewise abrogated when CBD-induced ICAM-1 expression was blocked by specific siRNA or by antagonists to cannabinoid receptors (CB1, CB2) and to transient receptor potential vanilloid 1.”
While cannabinoids had this effect on cancer cells, Hinz notes that it didn’t have the same effect on non-cancer cells; “Each cannabinoid elicited no significant increase of LAK cell-mediated lysis of non-tumor bronchial epithelial cells, BEAS-2B, associated with a far less pronounced (CBD, THC) or absent (R(+)-methanandamide) ICAM-1 induction as compared to cancer cells.”
Hinz concludes; “Altogether, our data demonstrate cannabinoid-induced upregulation of ICAM-1 on lung cancer cells to be responsible for increased cancer cell susceptibility to LAK cell-mediated cytolysis. These findings provide proof for a novel antitumorigenic mechanism of cannabinoids.”
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Rostock’s Section of Molecular Oncology and Immunotherapy, Institute of Toxicology and Pharmacology, and Department of Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology, and can be found by clicking here.