Assessment of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabiol in Mouse Models of Medulloblastoma and Ependymoma.

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Children with medulloblastoma and ependymoma are treated with a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy; however, overall survival rates for patients with high-risk disease remain unsatisfactory. Data indicate that plant-derived cannabinoids are effective against adult glioblastoma; however, preclinical evidence supporting their use in pediatric brain cancers is lacking. Here we investigated the potential role for Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) in medulloblastoma and ependymoma. Dose-dependent cytotoxicity of medulloblastoma and ependymoma cells was induced by THC and CBD in vitro, and a synergistic reduction in viability was observed when both drugs were combined. Mechanistically, cannabinoids induced cell cycle arrest, in part by the production of reactive oxygen species, autophagy, and apoptosis; however, this did not translate to increased survival in orthotopic transplant models despite being well tolerated. We also tested the combination of cannabinoids with the medulloblastoma drug cyclophosphamide, and despite some in vitro synergism, no survival advantage was observed in vivo. Consequently, clinical benefit from the use of cannabinoids in the treatment of high-grade medulloblastoma and ependymoma is expected to be limited. This study emphasizes the importance of preclinical models in validating therapeutic agent efficacy prior to clinical trials, ensuring that enrolled patients are afforded the most promising therapies available.

Keywords: CBD; THC; cannabidiol; cannabinoid; childhood cancer; ependymoma; medical cannabis; medulloblastoma; pediatric oncology; Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

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