Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 90, Issue 8, pp 925–934 | Cite as

Chemopreventive effect of the non-psychotropic phytocannabinoid cannabidiol on experimental colon cancer

  • Gabriella Aviello
  • Barbara Romano
  • Francesca Borrelli
  • Raffaele Capasso
  • Laura Gallo
  • Fabiana Piscitelli
  • Vincenzo Di MarzoEmail author
  • Angelo A. IzzoEmail author
Original Article


Colon cancer affects millions of individuals in Western countries. Cannabidiol, a safe and non-psychotropic ingredient of Cannabis sativa, exerts pharmacological actions (antioxidant and intestinal antinflammatory) and mechanisms (inhibition of endocannabinoid enzymatic degradation) potentially beneficial for colon carcinogenesis. Thus, we investigated its possible chemopreventive effect in the model of colon cancer induced by azoxymethane (AOM) in mice. AOM treatment was associated with aberrant crypt foci (ACF, preneoplastic lesions), polyps, and tumour formation, up-regulation of phospho-Akt, iNOS and COX-2 and down-regulation of caspase-3. Cannabidiol-reduced ACF, polyps and tumours and counteracted AOM-induced phospho-Akt and caspase-3 changes. In colorectal carcinoma cell lines, cannabidiol protected DNA from oxidative damage, increased endocannabinoid levels and reduced cell proliferation in a CB1-, TRPV1- and PPARγ-antagonists sensitive manner. It is concluded that cannabidiol exerts chemopreventive effect in vivo and reduces cell proliferation through multiple mechanisms.


Non-psychotropic cannabinoid Colon cancer Adenocarcinoma cells DNA damage 



GA is grateful to Nexus award “Marcello Tonini”.

Conflict of interest

This work was partly supported by GW Pharmaceuticals (UK).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriella Aviello
    • 1
  • Barbara Romano
    • 1
  • Francesca Borrelli
    • 1
  • Raffaele Capasso
    • 1
  • Laura Gallo
    • 2
  • Fabiana Piscitelli
    • 2
  • Vincenzo Di Marzo
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Angelo A. Izzo
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Pharmacology, Endocannabinoid Research GroupUniversity of Naples Federico IINaplesItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry, Endocannabinoid Research GroupConsiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)PozzuoliItaly
  3. 3.Department of Experimental PharmacologyUniversity of Naples Federico IINaplesItaly
  4. 4.Institute of Biomolecular ChemistryCNRPozzuoliItaly

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