Leukocytes are part of the tumor microenvironment (TME) and are critical determinants of tumor progression. Because of the immunoregulatory properties of cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may have an important role in shaping the TME. Members of the ECS, an entity that consists of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids and their synthesizing/degrading enzymes, have been associated with both tumor growth and rejection. Immune cells express cannabinoid receptors and produce endocannabinoids, thereby forming an "immune endocannabinoid system". Although in vitro effects of exogenous cannabinoids on immune cells are well described, the role of the ECS in the TME, and hence in tumor development and immunotherapy, is still elusive. This review/opinion discusses the possibility that the "immune endocannabinoid system" can fundamentally influence tumor progression. The widespread influence of cannabinoids on immune cell functions makes the members of the ECS an interesting target that could support immunotherapy.
Keywords: cannabinoid receptors; endocannabinoid system; immune cells; tumor microenvironment.