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J Immunol. 2011 Dec 1;187(11):5720-32. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1102195. Epub 2011 Nov 2.

Cannabinoid receptor 2 is critical for the homing and retention of marginal zone B lineage cells and for efficient T-independent immune responses.

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  • 1Blood Research Institute, BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53201, USA.


The endocannabinoid system has emerged as an important regulator of immune responses, with the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) and its principle ligand 2-archidonoylglycerol playing a major role. How CB2 regulates B cell functions is not clear, even though they express the highest levels of CB2 among immune cell subsets. In this study, we show that CB2-deficient mice have a significant reduction in the absolute number of marginal zone (MZ) B cells and their immediate precursor, transitional-2 MZ precursor. The loss of MZ lineage cells in CB2(-/-) mice was shown to be B cell intrinsic using bone marrow chimeras and was not due to a developmental or functional defect as determined by B cell phenotype, proliferation, and Ig production. Furthermore, CB2(-/-) B cells were similar to wild type in their apoptosis, cell turnover, and BCR and Notch-2 signaling. We then demonstrated that CB2(-/-) MZ lineage B cells were less efficient at homing to the MZ and that their subsequent retention was also regulated by CB2. CB2(-/-) mice immunized with T-independent Ags produced significantly less Ag-specific IgM. This study demonstrates that CB2 positively regulates T-independent immune responses by controlling the localization and positioning of MZ lineage cells to the MZ.

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