8.8 Cancers of the Liver and Bile Duct


Cancers of the liver are usually cancers of the liver tissues, as opposed to cancers of blood vessels or bile ducts within the liver. These are referred to as hepatocellular carcinomas. In addition, there are secondary cancers that originate elsewhere and metastasize to the liver.

Overexpression of the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors correlates with improved prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma[Xu_2006]. But stimulation of the CB1 receptor promotes cancer, suggesting that THC may be counterproductive[Mukh_2016].

Killing Cancer Cells

α-Pinene[Jin_2010], Linalool[Usta_2009], β-caryophyllene oxide[Jun_2011][Ambr_2015], α-terpineol[Sobral_2014, lin], eucalyptol[Sobral_2014, cin], 4-terpineol[Sobral_2014, terp], α-pinene[Sobral_2014, alph], d-limonene[Mana_2012], and geraniol[Ong_2005] are all cytotoxic against hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

Halting Cell Division

α-Pinene[Chen_2015] and geraniol[Crespo_2012] have inhibited cell division in human liver cancer.

Preventing Angiogenesis

β-Eudesmol inhibits the growth of new blood vessels[Ma_2008][Tsun_2005].

Inhibiting Invasion and Metastasis

THC reduces the invasiveness of bile-duct cancer cells when administered at doses low enough to avoid killing the cancer cells[Leel_2010].

Limiting Inflammatory Cytokines

IL-6 is overexpressed and contributes to tumor cell growth in bile duct cancer[Meng_2008]. See Taming Inflammatory Cytokines


Xu_2006. Overexpression of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 correlates with improved prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Abstract. Xu X, Liu Y, Huang S, et al. Cancer genetics and cytogenetics. November 2006.

Mukh_2016. Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Promotes Hepatocellular Carcinoma Initiation and Progression via Multiple Mechanisms. Full text. Mukhopadhyay B, Schuebel K, Mukhopadhyay P, et al. Hepatology. Online 2016 May 1.

Jin_2010. α-pinene triggers oxidative stress and related signaling pathways in A549 and HepG2 cells. Abstract. Jin K-S, Bak M-J, Jun M, et al. Food science and biotechnology. Online 2010 October 31.

Usta_2009. Linalool decreases HepG2 viability by inhibiting mitochondrial complexes I and II, increasing reactive oxygen species and decreasing ATP and GSH levels. Abstract. Usta J, Kreydiyyeh S, Knio K, et al. Chemico-biological interactions. Online 2009 March 5.

Jun_2011. Cytotoxic Activity of β-Caryophyllene Oxide Isolated from
Jeju Guava (Psidium cattleianum Sabine) Leaf. Full text. Jun N J, Mosaddik A, Moon J Y, et al [in vitro study]. Records of natural products. Published 2011.

Ambr_2015. The Influence of Sesquiterpenes from Myrica rubra on the Antiproliferative and Pro-Oxidative Effects of Doxorubicin and Its Accumulation in Cancer Cells. Full text. Ambrož M, Boušová I, Skarka A et al. Molecules. Published 2015 August.

Mana_2012. In vitro comparative analysis of antiproliferative activity of essential oil from mandarin peel and its principal component limonene. Abstract. Manassero C A, Girotti J R, Mijailovsky S, et al. Natural product research. Online 2012 September 4.

icon icons/globeicon.png. Sobral_2014. Antitumor Activity of Monoterpenes Found in Essential Oils [in vitro studies].

Sobral_2014, lin. 1.1\. Linalyl Acetate, Alpha-Terpineol, and Camphor. Overview. Sobral M V, Xavier A L, Lima T C, de Sousa D P. ListScientificWorldJournal. Online 2014 October 14.

Sobral_2014, cin. 1.20\. 1,8-Cineole/Eucalyptol. Overview. ~. ~. ~.

Sobral_2014, terp. 1.22\. Terpinen-4-ol. Overview. ~. ~. ~.

Sobral_2014, alph. 1.25\. Alpha- and Beta-Pinene. Overview. ~. ~. ~.

Ong_2005. Farnesol and geraniol chemopreventive activities during the initial phases of hepatocarcinogenesis involve similar actions on cell proliferation and DNA damage, but distinct actions on apoptosis, plasma cholesterol and HMGCoA reductase. Abstract. Ong T P, Heidor R, de Conti A, et al. Carcinogenesis. Online 2005 December 6.

Chen_2015. Anti-tumor effect of α-pinene on human hepatoma cell lines through inducing G2/M cell cycle arrest. Full text. Chen W, Liu Y, Li M, et al. Journal of Pharmacological Sciences. Published March 2015.

Crespo_2012. Transcriptional and posttranscriptional inhibition of HMGCR and PC biosynthesis by geraniol in 2 Hep-G2 cell proliferation linked pathways. Abstract. Crespo R, Sandra S M, Abba M C, et al. Biochemistry and cell biology. Online 2012 November 14.

Ma_2008. Beta-eudesmol suppresses tumour growth through inhibition of tumour neovascularisation and tumour cell proliferation. Abstract. Ma E-L, Li Y-C, Tsuneki H, et al. Journal of Asian natural products research. Published 2008 January-February.

Tsun_2005. Antiangiogenic activity of β-eudesmol in vitro and in vivo. Abstract. Tsuneki H, Wang M-W, Kimura I. European Journal of Pharmacology. Published 2005 April.

Leel_2010. The dual effects of delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol on cholangiocarcinoma cells: anti-invasion activity at low concentration and apoptosis induction at high concentration. Abstract. Leelawat S, Leelawat K, Narong S, Matangkasombut O. Cancer investigation. Published 2010 May.

Meng_2008. Epigenetic regulation of microRNA-370 by interleukin-6 in malignant human cholangiocytes. Abstract. Meng F, Wehbe-Janek H, Hensonm R, et al. Oncogene. 2008 January 10.