Cancer - Lymphoma & Cannabis studies completed


Lymphoma is the name applied to a group of blood cell tumors that develop from lymphatic cells. The two main types are Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)

The most common symptom of NHL is swollen, or enlarged, lymph nodes in the neck, armpit or groin. The swollen lymph nodes are usually painless, but they can eventually put pressure on tissue or organs around them and cause discomfort or pain.

Other common symptoms of NHL include:

  • a rash or itchy skin on the chest, stomach and back
  • unexplained fatigue

Some symptoms of NHL are generalized, which means that they affect the whole body. These are called B symptoms, or systemic symptoms. They usually include:

  • unexplained fever over 38°C that doesn’t go away
  • drenching night sweats (enough to soak bedding and night clothes)
  • unexplained weight loss of more than 10% of body weight within the last 6 months.

Science & Research

2013 - Study ~ Expression and functional relevance of cannabinoid receptor 1 in hodgkin lymphoma.
2011 - Study ~ WIN55,212-2 induces cytoplasmic vacuolation in apoptosis-resistant MCL cells.
2009 - Study ~ Potentiation of cannabinoid-induced cytotoxicity in mantle cell lymphoma through modulation of ceramide metabolism.
2009 - News ~ Medical Marijuana and Lymphoma

2008 - Study ~ Medical Marijuana Use and Research Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Statement

2008 - Study - Expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: growth inhibition by receptor activation.

2008 - News ~ Cannabis Agonist Reduces Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Tumor Growth, says study

2007 - Study ~ The expression of the peripheral cannabinoid receptor on cells of the immune system and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas.
2006 - Study ~ Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated Apoptosis Induced by R(+)-Methanandamide and Win55,212-2 Is Associated with Ceramide Accumulation and p38 Activation in Mantle Cell Lymphoma
2005 - Study ~ Cannabinoid receptor ligands mediate growth inhibition and cell death in mantle cell lymphoma.
2004 - Study ~ The Peripheral Cannabinoid Receptor CB2 and CD40 Are Novel Biological Markers That Predict Outcome in Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma of Elderly Patients.
2003 - Study ~ High level of cannabinoid receptor 1, absence of regulator of G protein signalling 13 and differential expression of Cyclin D1 in mantle cell lymphoma

2002 - Study ~ Targeting CB2 cannabinoid receptors as a novel therapy to treat malignant lymphoblastic disease

2002 - News ~ Lymphoma may be slowed by cannabis

2000 - Study ~ Anandamide Induces Apoptosis in Human Cells via Vanilloid Receptors
1999 - News ~ UCSF Researchers Report New Risk Factors For Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 in non-Hodgkin lymphoma: growth inhibition by receptor activation


Int J Cancer. 2008 Sep 1;123(5):1025-33.

Gustafsson K, Wang X, Severa D, Eriksson M, Kimby E, Merup M, Christensson B, Flygare J, Sander B.

Department of Laboratory Medicine, Division of Pathology, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, F-46, SE-14186 Stockholm, Sweden.


Endogenous and synthetic cannabinoids exert antiproliferative and proapoptotic effects in various types of cancer and in mantle cell lymphoma (MCL). In this study, we evaluated the expression of cannabinoid receptors type 1 and type 2 (CB1 and CB2) in non-Hodgkin lymphomas of B cell type (n = 62).

A majority of the lymphomas expressed higher mRNA levels of CB1 and/or CB2 as compared to reactive lymphoid tissue. With the exception of MCL, which uniformly overexpresses both CB1 and CB2, the levels of cannabinoid receptors within other lymphoma entities were highly variable, ranging from 0.1 to 224 times the expression in reactive lymph nodes. Low levels of the splice variant CB1a, previously shown to have a different affinity for cannabinoids than CB1, were detected in 44% of the lymphomas, while CB1b expression was not detected.

In functional studies using MCL, Burkitt lymphoma (BL), chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL) and plasma cell leukemia cell lines, the stable anandamide analog R(+)-methanandamide (R(+)-MA) induced cell death only in MCL and CLL cells, which overexpressed both cannabinoid receptors, but not in BL. In vivo treatment with R(+)-MA caused a significant reduction of tumor size and mitotic index in mice xenografted with human MCL.

Together, our results suggest that therapies using cannabinoid receptor ligands will have efficiency in reducing tumor burden in malignant lymphoma overexpressing CB1 and CB2.


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Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists May Be Novel Class of Anti-Lymphoma Agents

Publication date: July 25, 2002

Source: Reuters
Author: Faith Reidenbach
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Jul 25 - Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), the major
component of marijuana, and other cannabinoids induce apoptosis in murine tumors of
immune origin, according to researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
Like other immune cells, cancers of the immune system express a cannabinoid receptor
known as CB2, Dr. Mitzi Nagarkatti explained in an interview with Reuters Health.

Compounds that bind CB2 receptors selectively induce apoptosis in these cancer cells, she
said. Moreover, "compounds that interact with CB2 will not exhibit psychotropic effects."
In a series of in vitro experiments, Dr. Nagarkatti and her colleagues exposed murine
lymphoma and mastocytoma cells to four cannabinoid receptor agonists. THC and two of the
others significantly reduced cell viability and increased apoptosis, they report in the July
15th issue of Blood.

In vivo experiments confirmed the effect of THC. Ten days after mice were injected with
lymphoma cells, cells collected from animals treated with the highest dose of THC showed
77.3% apoptosis. Two weeks of THC treatment cured 25% of lymphoma-bearing mice.

"It is possible that the immunosuppressive effects of THC may have interfered with the
host's antitumor immunity, which may account for a lower percentage of cures," the
researchers comment. They are currently conducting murine dose-ranging studies.

The research group also demonstrated that three human leukemia and lymphoma cell lines
expressed CB2 and not CB1. Three cannabinoids, including THC, induced apoptosis in these
cell lines in vitro, and THC showed the same effect when cultured with cells from patients
diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"Recently, however, we identified a human cell line that was resistant," Dr. Nagarkatti's
team reports. "Further studies are in progress to address whether this cell line lacks physical
or functional cannabinoid receptors and/or signaling molecules that trigger apoptosis."
In addition, the research team is currently "screening a large number of CB2 analogs to
identify compounds that are highly efficacious in killing the cancer cells," Dr. Nagarkatti said.
"We are also investigating whether endogenous cannabinoids can exert antitumor activity."
Blood 2002;100:627-634.
Distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



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