Cannabinoids have ubiquitous effects on biological systems, acting both as potent immunosuppressive agents and as anti-inflammatory agents. The latest theories that cannabinoids and their derivatives can affect tumor growth and induce different pathways of cell death led us to investigate the possible effects of cannabis crude extract on apoptosis related endpoints. Considering that apoptosis is a highly conserved mechanism among species mediated by phagocytosis and release of lysosomal enzymes, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of cannabis crude extract on the lysosomal enzyme, acid phosphatase, using the ciliated protozoan Tetrahymena pyriformis as a cell model. Cultures of this protozoan were exposed to cannabis crude extract and acid phosphatase activity was measured as an indicator of lysosomal function. The results of our experiments showed that cannabis crude extract has an effect on the acid phosphatase of the protozoan. Administration of low doses of cannabis crude extract (0.1 mg and 0.3 mg) resulted in a statistically significant decrease of acid phosphatase, while the administration of a high dose of cannabis crude extract (0.5 mg) increased acid phosphatase. The results of the present study partly reflect the dual profile of cannabinoids and suggest a possible linkage to the reduced cellular immunity of cannabis smokers which could be evaluated by estimating the lysosomal integrity modification.
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