2016 Jun 1;11(6):e0156693. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156693.
The cannabinoid receptors 1 and 2 (CNR1&2) are overexpressed in a variety of malignant diseases and cannabinoids can have noteworthy impact on tumor cell viability and tumor growth. Patients diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) present with very heterogeneous disease characteristics translating into highly differential risk properties. To meet the urgent need for refinement in risk stratification at diagnosis and the search for novel therapies we studied CNR expression and response to cannabinoid treatment in CLL. Expression levels of CNR1&2 were determined in 107 CLL patients by real-time PCR and analyzed with regard to prognostic markers and survival. Cell viability of primary CLL cells was determined in suspension and co-culture after incubation in increasing cannabinoid concentrations under normal and reduced serum conditions and in combination with fludarabine. Impact of cannabinoids on migration of CLL cells towards CXCL12 was determined in transwell plates. We found CNR1&2 to be overexpressed in CLL compared to healthy B-cells. Discriminating between high and low expressing subgroups, only high CNR1 expression was associated with two established high risk markers and conferred significantly shorter overall and treatment free survival. Viability of CLL primary cells was reduced in a dose dependent fashion upon incubation with cannabinoids, however, healthy cells were similarly affected. Under serum reduced conditions, no significant differences were observed within suspension and co-culture, respectively, however, the feeder layer contributed significantly to the survival of CLL cells compared to suspension culture conditions. No significant differences were observed when treating CLL cells with cannabinoids in combination with fludarabine. Interestingly, biologic activity of cannabinoids was independent of both CNR1&2 expression. Finally, we did not observe an inhibition of CXCL12-induced migration by cannabinoids. In contrast to other tumor entities, our data suggest a limited usability of cannabinoids for CLL therapy. Nonetheless, we could define CNR1 mRNA expression as novel prognostic marker.
- PMID: 27248492
- [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]