gms | German Medical Science

57th Annual Meeting of the German Society of Neurosurgery
Joint Meeting with the Japanese Neurosurgical Society

German Society of Neurosurgery (DGNC)

11 - 14 May, Essen

Expression and function of cannabinoid receptors in human gliomas

Expression und Funktion der Cannabinoid-Rezeptoren in humanen Gliomen

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author L. Dörner - Department of Neurosurgery, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein Campus Kiel
  • R. Mentlein - Department of Anatomy, University of Kiel
  • G. Sahan - Department of Neurosurgery, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein Campus Kiel
  • H.M. Mehdorn - Department of Neurosurgery, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein Campus Kiel
  • J. Held-Feindt - Department of Neurosurgery, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein Campus Kiel

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Japanische Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 57. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie e.V. (DGNC), Joint Meeting mit der Japanischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. Essen, 11.-14.05.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocP 05.70

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: May 8, 2006

© 2006 Dörner et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Cannabinoids are reported to inhibit the growth of tumors, including glioblastomas, in experimental laboratory animal models. The effects have been claimed to be mediated via cannabinoid receptor 1 and 2 (CB1, CB2).

Methods: We investigated the receptor subtype expression in surgical material of solid human astrocytomas, gliomas and in cultivated glioma cells by quantitative RT-PCR, Western blot, immunohistochemistry and assayed their functionality.

Results: In normal brain, cultivated glioma cells and solid tumors, CB1 mRNA was far higher expressed than CB2 that was even undetectable in some samples. Expression of both receptor subtypes was unrelated to malignancy, varied between the patients, and was not significantly increased in relation to normal brain tissues. In normal brain, CB1 protein was localized on astroglial and other cell types; in gliomas, it was found on highly proliferating (tumor-) as well as on non-malignant cells. CB2 protein was detected on microglial cells / macrophages and to a lesser extent on astroglial cells, both in normal and glioma tissue. Functionally, CB receptor agonists showed only minor anti-proliferative effects in vitro, although they potently reduced elevated cAMP levels in intact tumor tissue as well as in cultivated glioma cells.

Conclusions: We conclude that cannabinoid therapy of human gliomas targets not tumor-related receptors located on various cell types. Therefore, complex and potential side effects should be considered carefully.