Biological Activity of Cannabis sativa L. Extracts Critically Depends on Solvent Polarity and Decarboxylation


Guillermo Moreno-Sanz, Carlos Ferreiro Vera, Carolina Sánchez-Carnerero, Xavier Nadal Roura, and Verónica Sánchez de Medina Baena

Published in Separations

September 2020


Minor cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid molecules have been proposed to significantly contribute to the pharmacological profile of cannabis extracts. Phytoplant Research has developed highly productive cannabis cultivars with defined chemotypes, as well as proprietary methods for the extraction and purification of cannabinoids. Here, we investigate the effect of solvent selection and decarboxylation on the composition and pharmacological activity of cannabis extracts. A library of forty cannabis extracts was generated from ten different cannabis cultivars registered by Phytoplant Research at the EU Community Plant Variety Office. Plant material was extracted using two different solvents, ethanol and hexane, and crude extracts were subsequently decarboxylated or not. Cannabinoid content in the resulting extracts was quantified, and biological activity was screened in vitro at three molecular targets involved in hypoxia and inflammation (NF-κB, HIF-1α and STAT3). Changes in transcriptional activation were strongly associated to solvent selection and decarboxylation. Two decarboxylated extracts prepared with hexane were the most potent at inhibiting NF-κB transcription, while HIF-1α activation was preferentially inhibited by ethanolic extracts, and decarboxylated extracts were generally more potent at inhibiting STAT3 induction. Our results indicate that solvent selection and proper decarboxylation represent key aspects of the standardized production of cannabis extracts with reproducible pharmacological activity.


Open Access


DOI: 10.3390/separations7040056


Moreno-Sanz, G., Ferreiro Vera, C., Sánchez-Carnerero, C., Nadal Roura, X., & Sánchez de Medina Baena, V. (2020). Biological Activity of Cannabis sativa L. Extracts Critically Depends on Solvent Polarity and Decarboxylation. Separations, 7(4), 56.