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Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration in vitro as well as its growth and metastasis in vivo

Abstract

Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary cannabinoid of marijuana and has been shown to either potentiate or inhibit tumor growth, depending on the type of cancer and its pathogenesis. Little is known about the activity of cannabinoids like THC on epidermal growth factor receptor-overexpressing lung cancers, which are often highly aggressive and resistant to chemotherapy. In this study, we characterized the effects of THC on the EGF-induced growth and metastasis of human non-small cell lung cancer using the cell lines A549 and SW-1573 as in vitro models. We found that these cells express the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, known targets for THC action, and that THC inhibited EGF-induced growth, chemotaxis and chemoinvasion. Moreover, signaling studies indicated that THC may act by inhibiting the EGF-induced phosphorylation of ERK1/2, JNK1/2 and AKT. THC also induced the phosphorylation of focal adhesion kinase at tyrosine 397. Additionally, in in vivo studies in severe combined immunodeficient mice, there was significant inhibition of the subcutaneous tumor growth and lung metastasis of A549 cells in THC-treated animals as compared to vehicle-treated controls. Tumor samples from THC-treated animals revealed antiproliferative and antiangiogenic effects of THC. Our study suggests that cannabinoids like THC should be explored as novel therapeutic molecules in controlling the growth and metastasis of certain lung cancers.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Justine Curley at the Histology Core Facility (BIDMC) for assistance with the immunohistochemistry and Janet Delahanty for editing this manuscript. This work was supported in part by NIH grant CA109527.

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Correspondence to R K Ganju or J E Groopman.

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Preet, A., Ganju, R. & Groopman, J. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits epithelial growth factor-induced lung cancer cell migration in vitro as well as its growth and metastasis in vivo. Oncogene 27, 339–346 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.onc.1210641

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Keywords

  • tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • lung cancer
  • A549
  • migration
  • invasion
  • EGFR

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