Multi-Omic Analysis Reveals Disruption of Cholesterol Homeostasis by Cannabidiol in Human Cell Lines

Mol Cell Proteomics. 2022 Jun 23;100262. doi: 10.1016/j.mcpro.2022.100262. Online ahead of print.


The non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), is FDA-approved for treatment of two drug-resistant epileptic disorders, and is seeing increased use among the general public, yet the mechanisms that underlie its therapeutic effects and side-effect profiles remain unclear. Here, we report a systems-level analysis of CBD action in human cell lines using temporal multi-omic profiling. FRET-based biosensor screening revealed that CBD elicits a sharp rise in cytosolic calcium, and activation of AMPK in human keratinocyte and neuroblastoma cell lines. CBD treatment leads to alterations in the abundance of metabolites, mRNA transcripts, and proteins associated with activation of cholesterol biosynthesis, transport and storage. We found that CBD rapidly incorporates into cellular membranes, alters cholesterol accessibility, and disrupts cholesterol-dependent membrane properties. Sustained treatment with high concentrations of CBD induces apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner. CBD-induced apoptosis is rescued by inhibition of cholesterol synthesis and potentiated by compounds that disrupt cholesterol trafficking and storage. Our data point to a pharmacological interaction of CBD with cholesterol homeostasis pathways, with potential implications in its therapeutic use.

Keywords: CBD; FRET biosensor; cannabidiol; cholesterol; high-content screening; lipidomics; metabolomics; multi-omics; phosphoproteomics; proteomics; systems pharmacology; transcriptomics.