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Modulation of breast cancer cell viability by a cannabinoid receptor 2 agonist, JWH-015, is calcium dependent

Authors Hanlon K, Lozano-Ondoua A, Umaretiya P, Symons-Liguori A, Chandramouli A, Moy J, Kwass W, Mantyh P, Nelson M, Vanderah T

Received 12 November 2015

Accepted for publication 14 January 2016

Published 15 April 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 59—71


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Tuhin Das

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Pranela Rameshwar

Katherine E Hanlon,1,2 Alysia N Lozano-Ondoua,1 Puja J Umaretiya,1 Ashley M Symons-Liguori,1 Anupama Chandramouli,1 Jamie K Moy,1 William K Kwass,1 Patrick W Mantyh,1 Mark A Nelson,3 Todd W Vanderah,1

1Department of Pharmacology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA; 2Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, Biddeford, ME, USA; 3Department of Pathology, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, AZ, USA

Introduction: Cannabinoid compounds, both nonspecific as well as agonists selective for either cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) or cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), have been shown to modulate the tumor microenvironment by inducing apoptosis in tumor cells in several model systems. The mechanism of this modulation remains only partially delineated, and activity induced via the CB1 and CB2 receptors may be distinct despite significant sequence homology and structural similarity of ligands.
Methods: The CB2-selective agonist JWH-015 was used to investigate mechanisms downstream of CB2 activation in mouse and human breast cancer cell lines in vitro and in a murine mammary tumor model.
Results: JWH-015 treatment significantly reduced primary tumor burden and metastasis of luciferase-tagged murine mammary carcinoma 4T1 cells in immunocompetent mice in vivo. Furthermore, JWH-015 reduced the viability of murine 4T1 and human MCF7 mammary carcinoma cells in vitro by inducing apoptosis. JWH-015-mediated reduction of breast cancer cell viability was not dependent on Gαi signaling in vitro or modified by classical pharmacological blockade of CB1, GPR55, TRPV1, or TRPA1 receptors. JWH-015 effects were calcium dependent and induced changes in MAPK/ERK signaling.
Conclusion: The results of this work characterize the actions of a CB2-selective agonist on breast cancer cells in a syngeneic murine model representing how a clinical presentation of cancer progression and metastasis may be significantly modulated by a G-protein-coupled receptor.

Keywords: cannabinoid receptor-2, CB2, breast cancer, JWH-015, MAPK/ERK, apoptosis, calcium 

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