Background: Neuroblastoma (nbl) is one of the most common solid cancers in children. Prognosis in advanced nbl is still poor despite aggressive multimodality therapy. Furthermore, survivors experience severe long-term multi-organ sequelae. Hence, the identification of new therapeutic strategies is of utmost importance. Cannabinoids and their derivatives have been used for years in folk medicine and later in the field of palliative care. Recently, they were found to show pharmacologic activity in cancer, including cytostatic, apoptotic, and antiangiogenic effects.
Methods: We investigated, in vitro and in vivo, the anti-nbl effect of the most active compounds in Cannabis, Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (thc) and cannabidiol (cbd). We set out to experimentally determine the effects of those compounds on viability, invasiveness, cell cycle distribution, and programmed cell death in human nbl SK-N-SH cells.
Results: Both compounds have antitumourigenic activity in vitro and impeded the growth of tumour xenografts in vivo. Of the two cannabinoids tested, cbd was the more active. Treatment with cbd reduced the viability and invasiveness of treated tumour cells in vitro and induced apoptosis (as demonstrated by morphology changes, sub-G1 cell accumulation, and annexin V assay). Moreover, cbd elicited an increase in activated caspase 3 in treated cells and tumour xenografts.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the antitumourigenic action of cbd on nbl cells. Because cbd is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid that appears to be devoid of side effects, our results support its exploitation as an effective anticancer drug in the management of nbl.
Keywords: Neuroblastoma; apoptosis; cannabidiol; non-psychoactive cannabinoids; tumour xenograft models; Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol.
Additionally, neuroblastoma may release hormones that could cause other symptoms like rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, sweating and flushing of the skin. In a few cases, children with neuroblastoma have developed opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome, which causes jerky muscle motions and rapid eye movements.
Surgeons use surgical tools like scalpels to remove the cancer cells. For the “low-risk” neuroblastoma, the surgeon may only need to remove the tumor. The ability to remove the tumor completely will depend on its size and location. Tumors attached to neighboring vital organs like the spinal cord or lungs might be too risky to remove.
Current Available Treatments for Neuroblastoma
Medical marijuana for neuroblastoma helps treat several symptoms of neuroblastoma, including:
The causes of the initial genetic mutation leading to neuroblastoma remain unclear.
Studies suggest the cannabinoid’s anti-cancer effects are related to how they interact with the cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system.