Cannabinoids as therapeutic agents in cancer: current status and future implications

Bandana Chakravarti, Janani Ravi and Ramesh K. Ganju _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:5852-5872. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.2233

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Bandana Chakravarti1,*, Janani Ravi2,* and Ramesh K. Ganju2

1 Molecular Medicine and Biotechnology Department, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India

2 Department of Pathology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

* These authors contributed equally to this work


Ramesh K. Ganju, email:

Keywords: Cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid agonists, cancer, signaling

Received: May 19, 2014 Accepted: July 17, 2014 Published: July 17, 2014


The pharmacological importance of cannabinoids has been in study for several years. Cannabinoids comprise of (a) the active compounds of the Cannabis sativa plant, (b) endogenous as well as (c) synthetic cannabinoids. Though cannabinoids are clinically used for anti-palliative effects, recent studies open a promising possibility as anti-cancer agents. They have been shown to possess anti-proliferative and anti-angiogenic effects in vitro as well as in vivo in different cancer models. Cannabinoids regulate key cell signaling pathways that are involved in cell survival, invasion, angiogenesis, metastasis, etc. There is more focus on CB1 and CB2, the two cannabinoid receptors which are activated by most of the cannabinoids. In this review article, we will focus on a broad range of cannabinoids, their receptor dependent and receptor independent functional roles against various cancer types with respect to growth, metastasis, energy metabolism, immune environment, stemness and future perspectives in exploring new possible therapeutic opportunities.

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