Author(s): Roth MD, Baldwin GC, Tashkin DP
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Abstract This review examines evidence that delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can regulate and suppress human immune responses. Leukocytes express both cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2), and levels of mRNA encoding for them are increased in peripheral blood leukocytes obtained from marijuana smokers, suggesting cannabinoid receptor activation in vivo. Exposure of human T-cells to THC suppresses their proliferation, inhibits the release of interferon-gamma, and skews the balance of T-helper cytokines towards a type 2 response. The majority of these effects are CB2 receptor-dependent. Consistent with an impact of THC on cell-mediated immunity, alveolar macrophages (AMs) recovered from the lungs of marijuana smokers are suppressed in their ability to release pro-inflammatory cytokines and nitric oxide (NO), and kill bacteria. Macrophage function is restored by treatment with interferon-gamma, a type 1 cytokine. Habitual exposure to THC appears capable of impacting on human cell-mediated immunity and host defense.
This article was published in Chem Phys Lipids
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research