Planta Med 2008; 74 - PA229
DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1084227

Cytotoxic and NF-κB-modulating effects of cannabis constituents

WI Pesche 1, G Appendino 2, A Constant 3, M Heinrich 1, JM Prieto-Garcia 1
  • 1Centre for Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29/39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK
  • 2Dipartimento di Scienze Chimiche, Alimentari, Farmaceutiche e Farmacologiche, Universita del Piemonte Orientale, Via Bovio 6, 28100 Novara, IT
  • 3Department of Pharmacology, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29/39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK

Cannabinoids have been found to modulate apoptotic signalling and the activation of Nuclear Factor kappa B (NF-κB). Most reports refer to delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); however, anti-inflammatory effects were also found for other cannabis constituents such as the prenylated flavone cannflavin A1. A systematic comparison of the anti-inflammatory and cytotoxic activities of major cannabinoid and phenolic constituents of cannabis has not, been carried out to date. We have therefore screened THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, cannflavin A/B, and other compounds for cytotoxicity, by measuring mitochondrial viability using a standard MTT assay in three cancer cell lines (HeLa/PC12/J774A.1). The effect on PMA/TNFα-induced NF-κB activation was tested in HeLaluc cells stably transfected with an IL-6 reporter gene. Cannabinoids alone, or in combinations, proved to be more toxic (LC50 <10µM) than non-cannabinoid plant constituents (LC50 >100µM). Interestingly, the cytotoxic effect induced by cannabinoids could be reverted by some of the phenolic compounds. The inhibition of PMA stimulated NF-κB expression by cannabinoids showed to be almost negligible at non toxic concentrations. Unexpectedly, some of the phenolic compounds enhanced the activation of this nuclear factor, which was more pronounced after TNFα activation. The interplay between metabolites from cannabis in the activation/inhibition of NF-κB as well as its modulation by CB1-, CB2- and TRPV1 antagonists is discussed.

Acknowledgements: William Ransom & Son Plc, European commission (grant code COOP-CT-2004–512696).

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