Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most frequent and aggressive type of brain tumor due, at least in part, to its poor response to current anticancer treatments. These features could be explained, at least partially, by the presence within the tumor mass of a small population of cells termed Glioma Initiating Cells (GICs) that has been proposed to be responsible for the relapses occurring in this disease. Thus, the development of novel therapeutic approaches (and specifically those targeting the population of GICs) is urgently needed to improve the survival of the patients suffering this devastating disease. Previous observations by our group and others have shown that Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, the main active ingredient of marijuana) and other cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD) exert antitumoral actions in several animal models of cancer, including gliomas. We also found that the administration of THC (or of THC + CBD at a 1:1 ratio) in combination with temozolomide (TMZ), the benchmark agent for the treatment of GBM, synergistically reduces the growth of glioma xenografts. In this work we investigated the effect of the combination of TMZ and THC:CBD mixtures containing different ratios of the two cannabinoids in preclinical glioma models, including those derived from GICs. Our findings show that TMZ + THC:CBD combinations containing a higher proportion of CDB (but not TMZ + CBD alone) produce a similar antitumoral effect as the administration of TMZ together with THC and CBD at a 1:1 ratio in xenografts generated with glioma cell lines. In addition, we also found that the administration of TMZ + THC:CBD at a 1:1 ratio reduced the growth of orthotopic xenografts generated with GICs derived from GBM patients and enhanced the survival of the animals bearing these intracranial xenografts. Remarkably, the antitumoral effect observed in GICs-derived xenografts was stronger when TMZ was administered together with cannabinoid combinations containing a higher proportion of CBD. These findings support the notion that the administration of TMZ together with THC:CBD combinations - and specifically those containing a higher proportion of CBD - may be therapeutically explored to target the population of GICs in GBM.
Keywords: Cannabinoids; Combinational therapies; Glioma; Glioma Initiating Cells; Temozolomide; Tumor xenografts.
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