Effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines on cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors in immune cells

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Abstract

Aims:

To investigate the regulation of cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2 on immune cells by pro-inflammatory cytokines and its potential relevance to the inflammatory neurological disease, multiple sclerosis (MS).

Aims:

CB1 and CB2 signalling may be anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective in neuroinflammatory diseases. Cannabinoids can suppress inflammatory cytokines but the effects of these cytokines on CB1 and CB2 expression and function are unknown.

Methods:

Immune cells from peripheral blood were obtained from healthy volunteers and patients with MS. Expression of CB1 and CB2 mRNA in whole blood cells, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and T cells was determined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Expression of CB1 and CB2 protein was determined by flow cytometry. CB1 and CB2 signalling in PBMC was determined by Western blotting for Erk1/2.

Results:

Pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α (the latter likely NF-κB dependently) can upregulate CB1 and CB2 on human whole blood and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). We also demonstrate upregulation of CB1 and CB2 and increased IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α mRNA in blood of patients with MS compared with controls.

Conclusion:

The levels of CB1 and CB2 can be upregulated by inflammatory cytokines, which can explain their increase in inflammatory conditions including MS.

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