The endocannabinoid system, a new gatekeeper in the pharmacology of human hepatocellular carcinoma

Environ Res. 2023 Apr 14:115914. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2023.115914. Online ahead of print.


Despite numerous prevention methodologies and treatment options, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) still remains as the third leading life-threatening cancer. It is thus pertinent to develop new treatment modality to fight this devastating carcinoma. Ample recent studies have shown the anti-inflammatory and antitumor roles of the endocannabinoid system in various forms of cancers. Preclinical studies have also confirmed that cannabinoid therapy can be an optimal regimen for cancer treatments. The endocannabinoid system is involved in many cancer-related processes, including induction of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-dependent apoptosis, autophagy, PITRK and ERK signaling pathways, cell invasion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and cancer stem cell (CSC) phenotypes. Moreover, changes in signaling transduction of the endocannabinoid system can be a potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for HCC. Due to its pivotal role in lipid metabolism, the endocannabinoid system affects metabolic reprogramming as well as lipid content of exosomes. In addition, due to the importance of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), several studies have examined the relationship between microRNAs and the endocannabinoid system in HCC. However, HCC is a pathological condition with high heterogeneity, and therefore using the endocannabinoid system for treatment has faced many controversies. While some studies favored a role of the endocannabinoid system in carcinogenesis and tumor induction, others exhibited the anticancer potential of endocannabinoids in HCC. In this review, specific studies delineating the relationship between endocannabinoids and HCC are examined. Based on collected findings, detailed studies of the molecular mechanism of endocannabinoids as well as preclinical studies for investigating therapeutic or carcinogenic impacts in HCC cancer are strongly suggested.

PMID:37062475 | DOI:10.1016/j.envres.2023.115914