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FASEB J. 2003 Sep;17(12):1771-3. Epub 2003 Jul 3.

Inhibitory effects of cannabinoid CB1 receptor stimulation on tumor growth and metastatic spreading: actions on signals involved in angiogenesis and metastasis.

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Endocannabinoid Research Group, Istituto di Endocrinologia ed Oncologia Sperimentale, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, and Dipartimento di Biologia e Patologia Cellulare e Molecolare L. Califano, Università di Napoli Federico II, Italy.


Stimulation of cannabinoid CB1 receptors by 2-methyl-arachidonyl-2'-fluoro-ethylamide (Met-F-AEA) inhibits the growth of a rat thyroid cancer cell-derived tumor in athymic mice by inhibiting the activity of the oncogene product p21ras. Here we report that Met-F-AEA also blocks the growth of tumors previously induced in nude mice by the s.c. injection of the same rat thyroid carcinoma cells. Met-F-AEA significantly inhibited, in tumors as well as transformed cells, the expression of the vascular endothelial growth factor, an angiogenetic factor known to be up-regulated by p21ras, as well as of one of its receptors, flt-1/VEGFR-1. The levels of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p27(kip1), which is down-regulated by p21ras, were instead increased by Met-F-AEA. All these effects were antagonized by the selective CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A. Met-F-AEA inhibited in vitro the growth of a metastasis-derived thyroid cancer cell line more potently than a primary cancer cell line. Therefore, the hypothesis that CB1 receptor stimulation interferes not only with angiogenesis but also with metastatic processes was tested in a widely used model of metastatic infiltration in vivo, the Lewis lung carcinoma (3LL) in C57Bl/6 mice. Three weeks from the paw injection of 3LL cells, Met-F-AEA reduced significantly the number of metastatic nodes, in a way antagonized by SR141716A. Our findings indicate that CB1 receptor agonists might be used therapeutically to retard tumor growth in vivo by inhibiting at once tumor growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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