Glioma is a type of cancer that starts in the brain or spine. It is called a glioma because it arises from glial cells. The most common site of gliomas is the brain.

Massi P, Vaccani A, Bianchessi S, Costa B, Macchi P, Parolaro D

Department of Pharmacology, Chemotherapy and Medical Toxicology, University of Milan, via Vanvitelli 32, 20129 Milan, Italy.

Recently, we have shown that the non-psychoactive cannabinoid compound cannabidiol (CBD) induces apoptosis of glioma cells in vitro and tumor regression in vivo. The present study investigated a possible involvement of caspase activation and reactive oxygen species (ROS) induction in the apoptotic effect of CBD. CBD produced a gradual, time-dependent activation of caspase-3, which preceded the appearance of apoptotic death. In addition, release of cytochrome c and caspase-9 and caspase-8 activation were detected. The exposure to CBD caused in glioma cells an early production of ROS, depletion of intracellular glutathione [?] and increase activity of glutathione [?] reductase and glutathione [?] peroxidase enzymes. Under the same experimental condition, CBD did not impair primary glia. Thus, we found a different sensitivity to the anti-proliferative effect of CBD in human glioma cells and non-transformed cells that appears closely related to a selective ability of CBD in inducing ROS production and caspase activation in tumor cells.