Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Pharmacology & Toxicology

First Advisor

David Gewirtz

Second Advisor

Aron Lichtman


The potential antitumor activity of mixed CB1/CB2 cannabinoid receptor agonists, such as the aminoalkylindole WIN55,212-2 (WIN2), has been extensively studied, but little information is available as to their potential interaction with conventional cancer therapies, such as ionizing radiation (IR). In the present work, we investigated the effects of WIN2 on the antiproliferative effects of radiation in human (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) and murine (4T1) breast cancer cells, as well as an immortalized human breast epithelial cell line (MCF-10A). WIN2 or radiation alone inhibited breast tumor growth, while the combination of WIN2 and radiation was more effective than either agent alone in breast cancer cells. WIN2 showed lower potency in MCF-10A cells than MCF-7 cells, but was still able to augment the effects of radiation at higher doses. The stereoisomer of WIN2, WIN55,212-3 (WIN3) failed to inhibit growth or potentiate the growth-inhibitory effects of radiation, indicating stereospecificity in all cell lines tested. The combination of WIN2 and IR was examined in vivo but the results were inconclusive. Interestingly, while other aminoalkylindoles, pravadoline and JWH-015, enhanced the antiproliferative effects of radiation, this was not the case for other synthetic cannabinoids (i.e., nabilone, CP55,940 and methanandamide) or phytocannabinoids (i.e., ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol). The antiproliferative actions of WIN2 were not ameliorated by CB1, CB2, TRPV1, or PPAR receptor antagonists, suggesting the possibility of a novel site of action. Studies utilizing sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) agonists and estradiol suggest that WIN2 interferes with S1P signaling in cell proliferation, but agonist stimulated [³⁵S]GTPγS binding assays show that this antagonism is not occurring at the level of S1P receptors. In addition, WIN2 did not alter radiation-induced DNA damage or the rate of DNA repair based on γH2AX staining. Treatment with WIN2 and radiation promoted both autophagy and senescence, but not apoptosis or necrosis. Time course studies combined with senescence and cell death data suggest that radiation-induced senescence, while WIN2 induced classical growth arrest and the WIN2/IR combination produced parallel mechanisms of both senescent growth arrest and classical growth arrest. Taken together, these findings raise the possibility that aminoalkylindole compounds targeting a novel site of action represents a potential strategy to augment the effectiveness of radiation treatment in breast cancer.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

February 2014