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Cannabis -vs- Pancreatic Cancer

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2225529In recent years, there has been increasing interest in cannabinoids due to their antineoplastic, anticachectic and analgesic potential. Synthetic cannabinoids mimic the function of their endogenous counterparts, such as anandamide (AEA) and arachidonoylglycerol (AG), by activating specific Gi/o protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors.5 Of these, cannabinoid receptor-1 (CB1)6 is abundantly found in neural tissues, while cannabinoid receptor-2 (CB2)7 is particularly expressed on cells of the immune system.5 Endocannabinoids are then metabolized by enzymes such as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH)8 and monoacyl glycerol lipase (MGLL).9,10 Growth inhibitory activities of cannabinoids have been demonstrated for various malignant tumors, including brain, breast, prostate, colorectal, skin and recently also pancreatic cancer.11–19 Regarding pancreatic cancer, these effects have not only been shown in vivo, but also in xenograft models.17 Cannabinoids can induce apoptosis in cancer cells, but have also been shown to inhibit tumor vascularization by altering blood vessel morphology and decreasing proangiogenic factors such as VEGF.19 Furthermore, they have been shown to decrease invasiveness of cancer cells.14,20–22. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17943729Cannabinoids exert antiproliferative properties in a variety of malignant tumors, including pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). In our study, we quantitatively evaluated the immunoreactivity for cannabinoid-1 (CB1) and cannabinoid-2 (CB2) receptors as well as for the endocannabinoid metabolizing enzymes fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and monoacyl glycerol lipase (MGLL). Furthermore, quantitative real-time RT-PCR for CB1, CB2, FAAH and MGLL in normal pancreas and pancreatic cancer tissues was performed. Levels of endocannabinoids were determined by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Immunoreactivity scores and QRT-PCR expression levels were correlated with the clinico-pathological (TNM, survival, pain) status of the patients. Evaluation of endocannabinoid levels revealed that these remained unchanged in PDAC compared to the normal pancreas. Patients with high CB1 receptor levels in enlarged nerves in PDAC had a lower combined pain score (intensity, frequency, duration; p = 0.012). There was a significant relationship between low CB1 receptor immunoreactivity or mRNA expression levels (p = 0.0011 and p = 0.026, respectively), or high FAAH and MGLL cancer cell immunoreactivity (p = 0.036 and p = 0.017, respectively) and longer survival of PDAC patients. These results are underlined by a significant correlation of high pain scores and increased survival (p = 0.0343). CB2 receptor immunoreactivity, CB2 receptor, FAAH and MGLL mRNA expression levels did not correlate with survival. Therefore, changes in the levels of endocannabinoid metabolizing enzymes and cannabinoid receptors on pancreatic cancer cells may affect prognosis and pain status of PDAC patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17484889 Patients with acute pancreatitis showed an up-regulation of cannabinoid receptors and elevated levels of endocannabinoids in the pancreas. HU210, a synthetic agonist at CB1 and CB2, abolished abdominal pain associated with pancreatitis and also reduced inflammation and decreased tissue pathology in mice without producing central, adverse effects. Antagonists at CB1- and CB2-receptors were effective in reversing HU210-induced antinociception, whereas a combination of CB1- and CB2-antagonists was required to block the anti-inflammatory effects of HU210 in pancreatitis.

In humans, acute pancreatitis is associated with up-regulation of ligands as well as receptors of the endocannabinoid system in the pancreas. Furthermore, our results suggest a therapeutic potential for cannabinoids in abolishing pain associated with acute pancreatitis and in partially reducing inflammation and disease pathology in the absence of adverse side effects.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16818650: Pancreatic adenocarcinomas are among the most malignant forms of cancer and, therefore, it is of especial interest to set new strategies aimed at improving the prognostic of this deadly disease. The present study was undertaken to investigate the action of cannabinoids, a new family of potential antitumoral agents, in pancreatic cancer. We show that cannabinoid receptors are expressed in human pancreatic tumor cell lines and tumor biopsies at much higher levels than in normal pancreatic tissue. Studies conducted with MiaPaCa2 and Panc1 cell lines showed that cannabinoid administration (a) induced apoptosis, (b) increased ceramide levels, and (c) up-regulated mRNA levels of the stress protein p8. These effects were prevented by blockade of the CB(2) cannabinoid receptor or by pharmacologic inhibition of ceramide synthesis de novo. Knockdown experiments using selective small interfering RNAs showed the involvement of p8 via its downstream endoplasmic reticulum stress-related targets activating transcription factor 4 (ATF-4) and TRB3 in Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol-induced apoptosis. Cannabinoids also reduced the growth of tumor cells in two animal models of pancreatic cancer. In addition, cannabinoid treatment inhibited the spreading of pancreatic tumor cells. Moreover, cannabinoid administration selectively increased apoptosis and TRB3 expression in pancreatic tumor cells but not in normal tissue. In conclusion, results presented here show that cannabinoids lead to apoptosis of pancreatic tumor cells via a CB(2) receptor and de novo synthesized ceramide-dependent up-regulation of p8 and the endoplasmic reticulum stress-related genes ATF-4 and TRB3. These findings may contribute to set the basis for a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17218765Administration of anandamide reduced gastric lesions and this effect was associated with am increase in gastric mucosal blood flow and mucosal DNA synthesis; whereas serum level of pro-inflammatory interleukin-1 beta was reduced. Treatment with AM 251 aggravated gastric damage and reversed protective effect of anandamide administration. Opposite effect was observed in the pancreas. Administration of anandamide increased dose-dependently the severity of pancreatitis. In histological examination, we observed an increase in pancreatic edema and inflammatory infiltration. Also, treatment with anandamide augmented the pancreatitis-induced increase in serum level of lipase, amylase, poly-C ribonuclease, and pro-inflammatory interleukin-1 beta; whereas pancreatic DNA synthesis was reduced. Treatment with AM 251 reduced histological and biochemical signs of pancreatic damage and reversed deleterious effect of anandamide in cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis.

Activation of CB1 receptors evokes opposite effects in the stomach and pancreas: in the stomach, exhibits protective effect against stress-induced gastric mucosal lesions; whereas in the pancreas, increases the severity of cerulein-induced pancreatitis.