Gamma-irradiation enhances apoptosis induced by cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic cannabinoid, in cultured HL-60 myeloblastic leukemia cells

Leuk Lymphoma. 2003 Oct;44(10):1767-73. doi: 10.1080/1042819031000103917.


Two non-psychotropic cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and cannabidiol-dimethylheptyl (CBD-DMH), induced apoptosis in a human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) HL-60 cell line. Apoptosis was determined by staining with bisBenzimide and propidium iodide. A dose dependent increase of apoptosis was noted, reaching 61 and 43% with 8 microg/ml CBD and 15 microg/ml CBD-DMH, respectively, after a 24 h treatment. Prior exposure of the cells to gamma-irradiation (800 cGy) markedly enhanced apoptosis, reaching values of 93 and 95%, respectively. Human monocytes from normal individuals were resistant to either cannabinoids or gamma-irradiation. Caspase-3 activation was observed after the cannabinoid treatment, and may represent a mechanism for the apoptosis. Our data suggest a possible new approach to treatment of AML.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Apoptosis / radiation effects*
  • Cannabidiol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects*
  • Enzyme Activation / radiation effects*
  • Gamma Rays
  • HL-60 Cells / drug effects
  • HL-60 Cells / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / radiation effects


  • Cannabidiol
  • 5-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)cannabidiol
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspases