It has been proposed that cannabinoids are involved in the control of cell fate. Thus, these compounds can modulate proliferation, differentiation, and survival in different manners depending on the cell type and its physiopathologic context. However, little is known about the effect of cannabinoids on the cell cycle, the main process controlling cell fate. Here, we show that Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), through activation of CB2 cannabinoid receptors, reduces human breast cancer cell proliferation by blocking the progression of the cell cycle and by inducing apoptosis. In particular, THC arrests cells in G2-M via down-regulation of Cdc2, as suggested by the decreased sensitivity to THC acquired by Cdc2-overexpressing cells. Of interest, the proliferation pattern of normal human mammary epithelial cells was much less affected by THC. We also analyzed by real-time quantitative PCR the expression of CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in a series of human breast tumor and nontumor samples. We found a correlation between CB2 expression and histologic grade of the tumors. There was also an association between CB2 expression and other markers of prognostic and predictive value, such as estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and ERBB2/HER-2 oncogene. Importantly, no significant CB2 expression was detected in nontumor breast tissue. Taken together, these data might set the bases for a cannabinoid therapy for the management of breast cancer.(Cancer Res 2006; 66(13): 6615-21)
- cell cycle
- breast cancer
- Received December 22, 2005.
- Revision received April 6, 2006.
- Accepted May 2, 2006.
- ©2006 American Association for Cancer Research.