Andrea M. Tomko, Erin G. Whynot, Denis J. Dupré


March 4, 2023


With the legalization of cannabis in multiple jurisdictions throughout the world, a larger proportion of the population consumes cannabis. Several studies have demonstrated anti-tumor effects of components present in cannabis in different models. Unfortunately, little is known about the potential anti-tumoral effects of cannabinoids in bladder cancer, and how cannabinoids could potentially synergize with chemotherapeutic agents. Our study aims to identify whether a combination of cannabinoids, like cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol with agents commonly used to treat bladder cancer, such as gemcitabine and cisplatin, is able to produce desirable synergistic effects. We also evaluated whether co-treatment of different cannabinoids also generated synergistic effects.

Materials and Methods
We generated concentration curves with different drugs to identify the range at which they could exert anti-tumor effects. We also evaluated the activation of the apoptotic cascade and whether cannabinoids have the ability to reduce invasion.

Cannabidiol, Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids reduce cell viability of bladder cancer cell lines, and their combination with gemcitabine or cisplatin may induce differential responses: from antagonistic to additive and synergistic effects, depending on the concentrations used. Cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol were also shown to induce caspase 3 cleavage and reduce invasion in a Matrigel assay. Cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol also display synergistic properties with other cannabinoids like cannabichromene or cannabivarin.

Our results indicate that cannabinoids can reduce human bladder transitional cell carcinoma cell viability, and that they can potentially exert synergistic effects when combined with other agents. Our in vitro results will form the basis for future studies in vivo and in clinical trials for the development of new therapies that could be beneficial for the treatment of bladder cancer in the future.


DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.25.436633


Tomko, A. M., Whynot, E. G., & Dupré, D. J. (2021). Anti-cancer properties of cannabidiol and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and potential synergistic effects with gemcitabine, cisplatin and other cannabinoids in bladder cancer. bioRxiv, 2021-03.