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J Pancreat Cancer. 2019 Jan 25;5(1):1-7. doi: 10.1089/pancan.2018.0019. eCollection 2019.

Potential Use of Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Pancreatic Cancer.

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1
Department of Surgery, University of Melbourne, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Abstract

Background: Cannabinoid extracts may have anticancer properties, which can improve cancer treatment outcomes. The aim of this review is to determine the potentially utility of cannabinoids in the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Methods: A literature review focused on the biological effects of cannabinoids in cancer treatment, with a focus on pancreatic cancer, was conducted. In vitro and in vivo studies that investigated the effects of cannabinoids in pancreatic cancer were identified and potential mechanisms of action were assessed. Results: Cannabinol receptors have been identified in pancreatic cancer with several studies showing in vitro antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects. The main active substances found in cannabis plants are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). There effects are predominately mediated through, but not limited to cannabinoid receptor-1, cannabinoid receptor-2, and G-protein-coupled receptor 55 pathways. In vitro studies consistently demonstrated tumor growth-inhibiting effects with CBD, THC, and synthetic derivatives. Synergistic treatment effects have been shown in two studies with the combination of CBD/synthetic cannabinoid receptor ligands and chemotherapy in xenograft and genetically modified spontaneous pancreatic cancer models. There are, however, no clinical studies to date showing treatment benefits in patients with pancreatic cancer. Conclusions: Cannabinoids may be an effective adjunct for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Data on the anticancer effectiveness of various cannabinoid formulations, treatment dosing, precise mode of action, and clinical studies are lacking.

KEYWORDS:

cannabidiol; cannabinoids; pancreatic cancer; tetrahydrocannabinol

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