Inhibition of colon carcinogenesis by a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol

Barbara Romano, Francesca Borrelli, Ester Pagano, Maria Grazia Cascio, Roger G. Pertwee, Angelo A. Izzo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Colon cancer is a major public health problem. Cannabis-based medicines are useful adjunctive treatments in cancer patients. Here, we have investigated the effect of a standardized Cannabis sativa extract with high content of cannabidiol (CBD), here named CBD BDS, i.e. CBD botanical drug substance, on colorectal cancer cell proliferation and in experimental models of colon cancer in vivo.

Methods: Proliferation was evaluated in colorectal carcinoma (DLD-1 and HCT116) as well as in healthy colonic cells using the MU assay. CBD BDS binding was evaluated by its ability to displace [H-3]CP55940 from human cannabinoid CBI and CB2 receptors. In vivo, the effect of CBD BDS was examined on the preneoplastic lesions (aberrant crypt foci), polyps and tumours induced by the carcinogenic agent azoxymethane (AOM) as well as in a xenograft model of colon cancer in mice.

Results: CBD BDS and CBD reduced cell proliferation in tumoral, but not in healthy, cells. The effect of CBD BDS was counteracted by selective CBI and CB2 receptor antagonists. Pure CBD reduced cell proliferation in a CB1-sensitive antagonist manner only. In binding assays, CBD BDS showed greater affinity than pure CBD for both CB1 and CB2 receptors, with pure CBD having very little affinity. In vivo, CBD BDS reduced AOM-induced preneoplastic lesions and polyps as well as tumour growth in the xenograft model of colon cancer.

Conclusions: CBD BDS attenuates colon carcinogenesis and inhibits colorectal cancer cell proliferation via CBI and CB2 receptor activation. The results may have some clinical relevance for the use of Cannabisbased medicines in cancer patients. (c) 2013 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-639
Number of pages9
Issue number5
Early online date25 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2014


  • Cannabinoid receptors
  • Cannabidiol
  • Delta(9)-Tetrahydrocannabinol
  • Cancer cell growth
  • Chemoprevention
  • Colorectal cancer

Cite this