?(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active ingredient of marijuana, and other cannabinoids inhibit tumor growth in animal models of cancer. This effect relies, at least in part, on the up-regulation of several endoplasmic reticulum stress-related proteins including the pseudokinase tribbles homologue-3 (TRIB3), which leads in turn to the inhibition of the AKT/mTORC1 axis and the subsequent stimulation of autophagy-mediated apoptosis in tumor cells. Here, we took advantage of the use of cells derived from Trib3-deficient mice to investigate the precise mechanisms by which TRIB3 regulates the anti-cancer action of THC. Our data show that RasV(12)/E1A-transformed embryonic fibroblasts derived from Trib3-deficient mice are resistant to THC-induced cell death. We also show that genetic inactivation of this protein abolishes the ability of THC to inhibit the phosphorylation of AKT and several of its downstream targets, including those involved in the regulation of the AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) axis. Our data support the idea that THC-induced TRIB3 up-regulation inhibits AKT phosphorylation by regulating the accessibility of AKT to its upstream activatory kinase (the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 2; mTORC2). Finally, we found that tumors generated by inoculation of Trib3-deficient cells in nude mice are resistant to THC anticancer action. Altogether, the observations presented here strongly support that TRIB3 plays a crucial role on THC anti-neoplastic activity. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Lipid Metabolism in Cancer.
Cannabinoids, the active components of marijuana and their derivatives, are currently investigated due to their potential therapeutic application for the management of many different diseases, including cancer. Specifically, ?(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) - the two major ingredients of marijuana - have been shown to inhibit tumor growth in a number of animal models of cancer, including glioma. Although there are several pharmaceutical preparations that permit the oral administration of THC or its analogue nabilone or the oromucosal delivery of a THC- and CBD-enriched cannabis extract, the systemic administration of cannabinoids has several limitations in part derived from the high lipophilicity exhibited by these compounds. In this work we analyzed CBD- and THC-loaded poly-?-caprolactone microparticles as an alternative delivery system for long-term cannabinoid administration in a murine xenograft model of glioma. In vitro characterization of THC- and CBD-loaded microparticles showed that this method of microencapsulation facilitates a sustained release of the two cannabinoids for several days. Local administration of THC-, CBD- or a mixture (1:1 w:w) of THC- and CBD-loaded microparticles every 5 days to mice bearing glioma xenografts reduced tumour growth with the same efficacy than a daily local administration of the equivalent amount of those cannabinoids in solution. Moreover, treatment with cannabinoid-loaded microparticles enhanced apoptosis and decreased cell proliferation and angiogenesis in these tumours. Our findings support that THC- and CBD-loaded microparticles could be used as an alternative method of cannabinoid delivery in anticancer therapies.
Erlotinib (ERL), a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that acts on the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), is used as a second line treatment for glioma therapy, with controversial findings regarding its response. Here, we analysed the gene expression profiles of a series of human glioma cell lines with differing sensitivities to ERL to identify the gene expression changes associated with ERL response. The varying responses to ERL were associated with different expression levels of specific genes (HRAS, CTFG, ERCC5 and HDAC3) and genes associated with specific pathways (apoptosis and cell death). PI3K pathway genes were primarily affected by ERL, as we found that PIK3R3 was repressed by ERL treatment in sensitive glioma cell lines. The cell cycle and ubiquitin pathways were also affected by EGFR inhibition, as GAS5, PLK1 and BIRC5 were the most significantly affected genes. In this study we have identified several genes such as PIK3R3 and GAS5, that can be targeted in order to enhance the response to ERL therapy.
??-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana, promotes cancer cell death via autophagy stimulation. We find that activation of the tyrosine kinase receptor ALK by its ligand midkine interferes with the signaling mechanism by which THC promotes autophagy-mediated glioma cell death.
Different physiological and pathological situations that produce alterations in the endoplasmic reticulum, lead to a condition known as ER stress. ER stress activates a complex intracellular signal transduction pathway, called unfolded protein response (UPR). UPR is tailored essentially to reestablish ER homeostasis. However, when persistent, ER stress can switch the cytoprotective functions of UPR into cell death promoting mechanisms. One of the cellular mechanisms that are regulated by ER stress is autophagy. Autophagy is a cellular process by which different cytoplasmic components including organelles are targeted for degradation to the autophagosomes. Interestingly, like ER stress, autophagy can be a protective or a cell death promoting mechanism. Recently, a variety of anticancer therapies (including those that stimulate ER stress) have been shown to activate autophagy in tumor cells, which has been proposed to either enhance cancer cell death or act as a mechanism of resistance to chemotherapy. In this chapter, we will describe some of the procedures that are currently used to analyze autophagy as well as some of the experimental approaches that can be undertaken to investigate the connection between ER stress and autophagy in cancer.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is highly resistant to current anticancer treatments, which makes it crucial to find new therapeutic strategies aimed at improving the poor prognosis of patients suffering from this disease. ?(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active ingredient of marijuana, and other cannabinoid receptor agonists inhibit tumor growth in animal models of cancer, including glioma, an effect that relies, at least in part, on the stimulation of autophagy-mediated apoptosis in tumor cells. Here, we show that the combined administration of THC and temozolomide (TMZ; the benchmark agent for the management of GBM) exerts a strong antitumoral action in glioma xenografts, an effect that is also observed in tumors that are resistant to TMZ treatment. Combined administration of THC and TMZ enhanced autophagy, whereas pharmacologic or genetic inhibition of this process prevented TMZ + THC-induced cell death, supporting that activation of autophagy plays a crucial role on the mechanism of action of this drug combination. Administration of submaximal doses of THC and cannabidiol (CBD; another plant-derived cannabinoid that also induces glioma cell death through a mechanism of action different from that of THC) remarkably reduces the growth of glioma xenografts. Moreover, treatment with TMZ and submaximal doses of THC and CBD produced a strong antitumoral action in both TMZ-sensitive and TMZ-resistant tumors. Altogether, our findings support that the combined administration of TMZ and cannabinoids could be therapeutically exploited for the management of GBM.
Autophagy can promote cell survival or cell death, but the molecular basis underlying its dual role in cancer remains obscure. Here we demonstrate that delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active component of marijuana, induces human glioma cell death through stimulation of autophagy. Our data indicate that THC induced ceramide accumulation and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2alpha (eIF2alpha) phosphorylation and thereby activated an ER stress response that promoted autophagy via tribbles homolog 3-dependent (TRB3-dependent) inhibition of the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) axis. We also showed that autophagy is upstream of apoptosis in cannabinoid-induced human and mouse cancer cell death and that activation of this pathway was necessary for the antitumor action of cannabinoids in vivo. These findings describe a mechanism by which THC can promote the autophagic death of human and mouse cancer cells and provide evidence that cannabinoid administration may be an effective therapeutic strategy for targeting human cancers.
Gliomas, one of the most malignant forms of cancer, exhibit high resistance to conventional therapies. Identification of the molecular mechanisms responsible for this resistance is therefore of great interest to improve the efficacy of the treatments against these tumors. Delta9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major active ingredient of marijuana, and other cannabinoids inhibit tumor growth in animal models of cancer, including glioma, an effect that relies, at least in part, on the ability of these compounds to induce apoptosis of tumor cells. By analyzing the gene expression profile of two sub-clones of C6 glioma cells with different sensitivity to cannabinoid-induced apoptosis, we found a subset of genes with a marked differential expression in the two sub-clones. Furthermore, we identified the epidermal growth factor receptor ligand amphiregulin as a candidate factor to mediate the resistance of glioma cells to cannabinoid treatment. Amphiregulin was highly overexpressed in the cannabinoid-resistant cell line, both in culture and in tumor xenografts. Moreover, in vivo silencing of amphiregulin rendered the resistant tumors xenografts sensitive to cannabinoid antitumoral action. Amphiregulin expression was associated with increased extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation, which mediated the resistance to THC by blunting the expression of p8 and TRB3-two genes involved in cannabinoid-induced apoptosis of glioma cells. Our findings therefore identify Amphirregulin as a factor for resistance of glioma cells to THC-induced apoptosis and contribute to unraveling the molecular bases underlying the emerging notion that targeted inhibition of the EGFR pathway can improve the efficacy of antitumoral therapies.
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