Cannabis sativa is one of the oldest cultivated plants. Many of the medicinal properties of cannabis are known, although very few cannabis-based formulations became prescribed drugs. Previous research demonstrated that cannabis varieties are very different in their medicinal properties, likely due to the entourage effect-the synergistic or antagonistic effect of various cannabinoids and terpenes. In this work, we analyzed 25 cannabis extracts containing high levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We used HCC1806 squamous cell carcinoma and demonstrated various degrees of efficiency of the tested extracts, from 66% to 92% of growth inhibition of cancer cells. Inflammation was tested by induction of inflammation with TNF-α/IFN-γ in WI38 human lung fibroblasts. The efficiency of the extracts was tested by analyzing the expression of COX2 and IL6; while some extracts aggravated inflammation by increasing the expression of COX2/IL6 by 2-fold, other extracts decreased inflammation, reducing expression of cytokines by over 5-fold. We next analyzed the level of THC, CBD, CBG and CBN and twenty major terpenes and performed clustering and association analysis between the chemical composition of the extracts and their efficiency in inhibiting cancer growth and curbing inflammation. A positive correlation was found between the presence of terpinene (pval = 0.002) and anti-cancer property; eucalyptol came second, with pval of 0.094. p-cymene and β-myrcene positively correlated with the inhibition of IL6 expression, while camphor correlated negatively. No significant correlation was found for COX2. We then performed a correlation analysis between cannabinoids and terpenes and found a positive correlation for the following pairs: α-pinene vs. CBD, p-cymene vs. CBGA, terpenolene vs. CBGA and isopulegol vs. CBGA. Our work, thus, showed that most of high-THC extracts demonstrate anti-cancer activity, while only certain selected extracts showed anti-inflammatory activity. Presence of certain terpenes, such as terpinene, eucalyptol, cymene, myrcene and camphor, appear to have modulating effects on the activity of cannabinoids.
Keywords: Cannabis sativa; anti-cancer property; anti-inflammatory property; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; flower extracts.