A novel mechanism of cannabidiol in suppressing ovarian cancer through LAIR-1 mediated mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis

Environ Toxicol. 2023 May;38(5):1118-1132. doi: 10.1002/tox.23752. Epub 2023 Feb 22.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid compound. It has been shown that CBD can inhibit the proliferation of ovarian cancer cells, but the underlying specific mechanism is unclear. We previously presented the first evidence for the expression of leukocyte-associated immunoglobulin-like receptor 1 (LAIR-1), a member of the immunosuppressive receptor family, in ovarian cancer cells. In the present study, we investigated the mechanism by which CBD inhibits the growth of SKOV3 and CAOV3 ovarian cancer cells, and we sought to understand the concurrent role of LAIR-1. In addition to inducing ovarian cancer cell cycle arrest and promoting cell apoptosis, CBD treatment significantly affected the expression of LAIR-1 and inhibited the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling axis and mitochondrial respiration in ovarian cancer cells. These changes were accompanied by an increase in ROS, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, and suppression of mitochondrial respiration and aerobic glycolysis, thereby inducing abnormal or disturbed metabolism and reducing ATP production. A combined treatment with N-acetyl-l-cysteine and CBD indicated that a reduction in ROS production would restore PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway signaling and ovarian cancer cell proliferation. We subsequently confirmed that the inhibitory effect of CBD on the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signal axis and mitochondrial bioenergy metabolism was attenuated by knockdown of LAIR-1. Our animal studies further support the in vivo anti-tumor activity of CBD and suggest its mechanism of action. In summary, the present findings confirm that CBD inhibits ovarian cancer cell growth by disrupting the LAIR-1-mediated interference with mitochondrial bioenergy metabolism and the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. These results provide a new experimental basis for research into ovarian cancer treatment based on targeting LAIR-1 with CBD.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; LAIR-1; PI3K/AKT/mTOR; ROS; cell bioenergetics; ovarian cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cannabidiol* / pharmacology
  • Cannabidiol* / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Cannabidiol
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • leukocyte-associated immunoglobulin-like receptor 1