Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 116, Issue 1, pp 11–24 | Cite as

Systematic review of the literature on clinical and experimental trials on the antitumor effects of cannabinoids in gliomas

  • Francisco Carlos Machado RochaEmail author
  • Jair Guilherme dos Santos Júnior
  • Sergio Carlos Stefano
  • Dartiu Xavier da Silveira
Topic Review


To evaluate, through a systematic review of the literature, the antitumoral effects of cannabinoids on gliomas. Research included the following electronic databases: PUBMED, EMBASE, LILACS and The Cochrane Collaboration Controlled Trials Register. All published studies involving the antitumoral effects (cellular and molecular mechanisms) of cannabinoids were considered for this review. The bibliography search strategy included all publications of each of these databases until December 31, 2012. From 2,260 initially identified articles, 35 fulfilled the inclusion criteria for this review. All the studies included in this systematic review were experimental (in vivo and/or in vitro), except for one pilot clinical trial phase I/II involving humans. In all experimental studies included, cannabinoids exerted antitumoral activity in vitro and/or antitumoral evidence in vivo in several models of tumor cells and tumors. The antitumor activity included: antiproliferative effects (cell cycle arrest), decreased viability and cell death by toxicity, apoptosis, necrosis, autophagy, as well as antiangiogenic and antimigratory effects. Antitumoral evidence included: reduction in tumor size, antiangiogenic, and antimetastatic effects. Additionally, most of the studies described that the canabinnoids exercised selective antitumoral action in several distinct tumor models. Thereby, normal cells used as controls were not affected. The safety factor in the cannabinoids’ administration has also been demonstrated in vivo. The various cannabinoids tested in multiple tumor models showed antitumoral effects both in vitro and in vivo. These findings indicate that cannabinoids are promising compounds for the treatment of gliomas.


Gliomas Cannabinoids Apoptosis Cell cycle arrest Anti-angiogenesis Anti-metastasis 



Coordination of Improvement of People of Higher Level (CAPES), Cochrane Center.

Conflict of interest

This paper has no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Carlos Machado Rocha
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jair Guilherme dos Santos Júnior
    • 2
  • Sergio Carlos Stefano
    • 1
  • Dartiu Xavier da Silveira
    • 1
  1. 1.Paulista School of MedicineFederal University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Faculty of Medical Sciences of Santa Casa of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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