Pierre-Yves Desprez, Ryuichi Murase, Chandani Limbad, Rinette W L Woo, Isabel Adrados, Klemens Weitenthaler, Liliana Soroceanu, Nathan Salomonis, Sean D McAllister

Published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research

April 2021


Background:  We previously reported that cannabidiol (CBD), a cannabinoid with a low toxicity profile, downregulated the expression of the prometastatic gene inhibitor of DNA binding 1 (ID1) in cancer cells, leading to inhibition of tumor progression in vivo. While CBD is broadly used, including in the self-medication of cancer patients, and CBD-based therapies are undergoing clinical evaluation for cancer treatment, its mechanisms of action are still poorly understood.

Methods: : In this study, using microarray analysis and Western blot analysis for validation, we attempted to identify the full spectrum of genes regulated by CBD across various aggressive cancer cell lines, including the breast, brain, head and neck, and prostate.

Results:  We confirmed that ID1 was a major target downregulated by CBD and also discovered that CBD inhibited FOXM1 (Forkhead box M1), a transcriptional activator involved in cell proliferation, while simultaneously upregulating GDF15 (growth differentiation factor 15), a cytokine associated with tissue differentiation.

Conclusion:  Our results suggest that, by modulating expression of shared key cancer-driving genes, CBD could represent a promising nontoxic therapeutic for treating tumors of various origins.

Open Access


DOI: 10.1089/can.2019.0081


Desprez, P. Y., Murase, R., Limbad, C., Woo, R. W., Adrados, I., Weitenthaler, K., … & McAllister, S. D. (2021). Cannabidiol Treatment Results in a Common Gene Expression Response Across Aggressive Cancer Cells from Various Origins. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 6(2), 148-155.