CBD impact on Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) of T lineage (T-ALL)

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) of T lineage (T-ALL) occurs in 15% of childhood and 25% of adult ALL cases. It represents a highly aggressive cancer that is resistant to chemotherapy and has an increased risk of relapse with long-term remission failure of  ~20% in children and 40% of adult patients.

Cell lines derived from acute lymphoblastic leukemia of T lineage (T-ALL), but not resting healthy T cells, has been shown to be highly sensitive to CBD.

Olivas-Aguirre et al. demonstrated that CBD effects do not depend on cannabinoid receptors or plasma membrane Ca2+-permeable channels. CBD directly targets mitochondria and alters their capacity to handle Ca2+. CBD causes mitochondrial Ca2+ overload, stable mitochondrial transition pore formation, and cell death.

CBD at 30–100 μM induces cell death, while at 10 μM the cells remained alive, but did not proliferate. At low (1 μM) concentration, CBD stimulated cell proliferation and prevented cell death.

Contrasting effects of low and high CBD concentrations justifies further research to better understand CBD effects and its potential role as an adjunct treatment in T-ALL.


  1. Nguyen K, et al. Factors influencing survival after relapse from acute lymphoblastic leukemia: a Children’s Oncology Group Study. Leukemia. 2008;22:2142–2150. doi: 10.1038/leu.2008.251.
  2. Pui CH, Yang JJ, Bhakta N, Galindo C. Global efforts toward the cure of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Lancet Child Adolesc. Health. 2018;2:440–454. doi: 10.1016/S2352-4642(18)30066-X.
  3. Olivas-Aguirre M, Torres-López L, Valle-Reyes JS, Hernández-Cruz A, Pottosin I, Dobrovinskaya O. Cannabidiol directly targets mitochondria and disturbs calcium homeostasis in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Cell Death Dis. 2019;10(10):779. Published 2019 Oct 14. doi:10.1038/s41419-019-2024-0.
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