Herein we show that a majority of human brain tumor samples and cell lines over-expressed cannabinoid receptor CB1 as compared to normal human astrocytes (NHA), while uniformly expressed low levels of CB2. This finding prompted us to investigate the therapeutic exploitation of CB1 inactivation by SR141716 treatment, with regard to its direct and indirect cell-mediated effects against gliomas. Functional studies, using U251MG glioma cells and primary tumor cell lines derived from glioma patients expressing different levels of CB1, highlighted SR141716 efficacy in inducing apoptosis via G1 phase stasis and block of TGF-β1 secretion through a mechanism that involves STAT3 inhibition. According to the multivariate role of STAT3 in the immune escape too, interestingly SR141716 lead also to the functional and selective expression of MICA/B on the surface of responsive malignant glioma cells, but not on NHA. This makes SR141716 treated-glioma cells potent targets for allogeneic NK cell-mediated recognition through a NKG2D restricted mechanism, thus priming them for NK cell antitumor reactivity. These results indicate that CB1 and STAT3 participate in a new oncogenic network in the complex biology of glioma and their expression levels in patients dictate the efficacy of the CB1 antagonist SR141716 in multimodal glioma destruction.
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