The endocannabinoid anandamide inhibits cholangiocarcinoma growth via activation of the noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway. Academic Article uri icon


  • Cholangiocarcinomas are cancers that have poor prognosis and limited treatment options. The noncanonical Wnt pathway is mediated predominantly by Wnt 5a, which activates a Ca(2+)-dependent pathway involving protein kinase C, or a Ca(2+)-independent pathway involving the orphan receptor Ror2 and subsequent activation of Jun NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK). This pathway is associated with growth-suppressing effects in numerous cell types. We have shown that anandamide decreases cholangiocarcinoma growth in vitro. Therefore, we determined the effects of anandamide on cholangiocarcinoma tumor growth in vivo using a xenograft model and evaluated the effects of anandamide on the noncanonical Wnt signaling pathways. Chronic administration of anandamide decreased tumor growth and was associated with increased Wnt 5a expression in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of cholangiocarcinoma cells with recombinant Wnt 5a decreased cell proliferation in vitro. Neither anandamide nor Wnt 5a affected intracellular calcium release, but both increased the JNK phosphorylation. Stable knockdown of Wnt 5a or Ror2 expression in cholangiocarcinoma cells abolished the effects of anandamide on cell proliferation and JNK activation. Modulation of the endocannabinoid system may be important in cholangiocarcinoma treatment. The antiproliferative actions of the noncanonical Wnt signaling pathway warrants further investigation to dissect the mechanism by which this may occur.

published proceedings

  • Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol

altmetric score

  • 8.75

author list (cited authors)

  • DeMorrow, S., Francis, H., Gaudio, E., Venter, J., Franchitto, A., Kopriva, S., ... Alpini, G.

citation count

  • 58

complete list of authors

  • DeMorrow, Sharon||Francis, Heather||Gaudio, Eugenio||Venter, Julie||Franchitto, Antonio||Kopriva, Shelley||Onori, Paolo||Mancinelli, Romina||Frampton, Gabriel||Coufal, Monique||Mitchell, Brett||Vaculin, Bradley||Alpini, Gianfranco

publication date

  • December 2008