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The Expression Level Of Cb1 And Cb2 Receptors Determines Their Efficacy At Inducing Apoptosis In Astrocytomas

in vivo

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Abstract Background

Cannabinoids represent unique compounds for treating tumors, including astrocytomas. Whether CB1 and CB2 receptors mediate this therapeutic effect is unclear.

Principal Findings

We generated astrocytoma subclones that express set levels of CB1 and CB2, and found that cannabinoids induce apoptosis only in cells expressing low levels of receptors that couple to ERK1/2. In contrast, cannabinoids do not induce apoptosis in cells expressing high levels of receptors because these now also couple to the prosurvival signal AKT. Remarkably, cannabinoids applied at high concentration induce apoptosis in all subclones independently of CB1, CB2 and AKT, but still through a mechanism involving ERK1/2.


The high expression level of CB1 and CB2 receptors commonly found in malignant astrocytomas precludes the use of cannabinoids as therapeutics, unless AKT is concomitantly inhibited, or cannabinoids are applied at concentrations that bypass CB1 and CB2 receptors, yet still activate ERK1/2.




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