Research Papers:

Role of miRNA in the regulation of cannabidiol-mediated apoptosis in neuroblastoma cells

Esraah Alharris, Narendra P. Singh, Prakash S. Nagarkatti and Mitzi Nagarkatti _

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Oncotarget. 2019; 10:45-59. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.26534

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Esraah Alharris1, Narendra P. Singh1, Prakash S. Nagarkatti1 and Mitzi Nagarkatti1

1Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC 29209, USA

Correspondence to:

Mitzi Nagarkatti, email: [email protected]

Keywords: miRNA; cannabidiol; neuroblastoma; hsa-let-7a; hsa-miR-1972

Received: September 29, 2018     Accepted: December 13, 2018     Published: January 01, 2019


Neuroblastoma (NBL) is one of the most common childhood cancers that originate from the immature nerve cells of the sympathetic system. Studies with NBL cancers have also shown that miRNAs are dysregulated and may play a critical role in pathogenesis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana which has been previously shown by our laboratory and others to induce apoptosis in cancer cells. However, there are no studies reported to test if CBD mediates these effects through regulation of miRNA. In the current study, therefore, we investigated if CBD induces apoptosis in human NBL cell lines, SH SY5Y and IMR-32, and if it is regulated by miRNA. Our data demonstrated that CBD induces apoptosis in NBL cells through activation of serotonin and vanilloid receptors. We also found that caspase-2 and -3 played an important role in the induction of apoptosis. CBD also significantly reduced NBL cell migration and invasion in vitro. Furthermore, CBD blocked mitochondrial respiration and caused a shift in metabolism towards glycolysis. CBD altered the expression of miRNA specifically, down-regulating hsa-let-7a and upregulating hsa-mir-1972. Downregulation of let-7a increased expression of target caspase-3, and growth arrest specific-7 (GAS-7) genes. Upregulation of hsa-mir-1972 caused decreased expression of BCL2L1 and SIRT2 genes. Together, our studies suggest that CBD-mediated apoptosis in NBL cells is regulated by miRNA.

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