The endocannabinoid system in cancer-potential therapeutic target?

Semin Cancer Biol. 2008 Jun;18(3):176-89. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2007.12.008. Epub 2007 Dec 14.


Endogenous arachidonic acid metabolites with properties similar to compounds of Cannabis sativa Linnaeus, the so-called endocannabinoids, have effects on various types of cancer. Although endocannabinoids and synthetic cannabinoids may have pro-proliferative effects, predominantly inhibitory effects on tumor growth, angiogenesis, migration and metastasis have been described. Remarkably, these effects may be selective for the cancer cells, while normal cells and tissues are spared. Such apparent tumor cell selectivity makes the endocannabinoid system an attractive potential target for cancer therapy. In this review we discuss various means by which the endocannabinoid system may be targeted in cancer and the current knowledge considering the regulation of the endocannabinoid system in malignancy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / therapeutic use*
  • Endocannabinoids*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / metabolism


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid