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J Biol Chem. 2008 May 9;283(19):13320-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M707960200. Epub 2008 Mar 11.

The CB(2) cannabinoid receptor controls myeloid progenitor trafficking: involvement in the pathogenesis of an animal model of multiple sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I, Complutense University, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Cannabinoids are potential agents for the development of therapeutic strategies against multiple sclerosis. Here we analyzed the role of the peripheral CB(2) cannabinoid receptor in the control of myeloid progenitor cell trafficking toward the inflamed spinal cord and their contribution to microglial activation in an animal model of multiple sclerosis (experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, EAE). CB(2) receptor knock-out mice showed an exacerbated clinical score of the disease when compared with their wild-type littermates, and this occurred in concert with extended axonal loss, T-lymphocyte (CD4(+)) infiltration, and microglial (CD11b(+)) activation. Immature bone marrow-derived CD34(+) myeloid progenitor cells, which play a role in neuroinflammatory pathologies, were shown to express CB(2) receptors and to be abundantly recruited toward the spinal cords of CB(2) knock-out EAE mice. Bone marrow-derived cell transfer experiments further evidenced the increased contribution of these cells to microglial replenishment in the spinal cords of CB(2)-deficient animals. In line with these observations, selective pharmacological CB(2) activation markedly reduced EAE symptoms, axonal loss, and microglial activation. CB(2) receptor manipulation altered the expression pattern of different chemokines (CCL2, CCL3, CCL5) and their receptors (CCR1, CCR2), thus providing a mechanistic explanation for its role in myeloid progenitor recruitment during neuroinflammation. These findings demonstrate the protective role of CB(2) receptors in EAE pathology; provide evidence for a new site of CB(2) receptor action, namely the targeting of myeloid progenitor trafficking and its contribution to microglial activation; and support the potential use of non-psychoactive CB(2) agonists in therapeutic strategies for multiple sclerosis and other neuroinflammatory disorders.

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