Induction of apoptosis by cannabinoids in prostate and colon cancer cells is phosphatase dependent

Sandeep Sreevalsan, Sonia Joseph, Indira Jutooru, Gayathri Chadalapaka, Stephen H. Safe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Aim: We hypothesized that the anticancer activity of cannabinoids was linked to induction of phosphatases. Materials and Methods: The effects of cannabidiol (CBD) and the synthetic cannabinoid WIN-55,212 (WIN) on LNCaP (prostate) and SW480 (colon) cancer cell proliferation were determined by cell counting; apoptosis was determined by cleavage of poly(ADP)ribose polymerase (PARP) and caspase-3 (Western blots); and phosphatase mRNAs were determined by real-time PCR. The role of phosphatases and cannabinoid receptors in mediating CBD- and WIN-induced apoptosis was determined by inhibition and receptor knockdown. Results: CBD and WIN inhibited LNCaP and SW480 cell growth and induced mRNA expression of several phosphatases, and the phosphatase inhibitor sodium orthovanadate significantly inhibited cannabinoid-induced PARP cleavage in both cell lines, whereas only CBD-induced apoptosis was CB1 and CB2 receptor-dependent. Conclusion: Cannabinoid receptor agonists induce phosphatases and phosphatase-dependent apoptosis in cancer cell lines; however, the role of the CB receptor in mediating this response is ligand-dependent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3799-3807
Number of pages9
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Apoptosis
  • Cannabinoids
  • Dual-specificity phosphatases
  • Prostate cancer cell lines
  • Protein tyrosine phosphatases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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