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Cell Signal. 2001 Apr;13(4):241-50.

Modulation of CREB and NF-kappaB signal transduction by cannabinol in activated thymocytes.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and National Food Safety and Toxicology Center, 315 Food Safety and Toxicology Building, Michigan State University, 48824, East Lansing, MI, USA.


Cannabinoid compounds inhibit the cAMP signalling cascade in leukocytes. One of these compounds, cannabinol (CBN) has been shown to inhibit interleukin-2 (IL-2) expression and the activation of cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) and nuclear factor for immunoglobulin kappa chain in B cells (NF-kappaB) following phorbol-12-myristate-13 acetate (PMA) plus ionomycin (Io) treatment of thymocytes. Therefore, the objective of the present studies was to determine the role of cAMP and protein kinase A (PKA) in the CBN-mediated inhibition of IL-2, CREB, and NF-kappaB in PMA/Io-activated thymocytes. The inhibition of CREB/ATF-1 phosphorylation, or cAMP response element (CRE) or kappaB DNA binding activity produced by CBN in PMA/Io-activated thymocytes, could not be reversed by DBcAMP costimulation. Furthermore, DBcAMP failed to reverse the concentration-dependent inhibition of IL-2 protein secretion by CBN. Pretreatment of thymocytes with H89 produced a modest inhibition of PMA/Io-induced CREB/ATF-1 phosphorylation and CRE DNA binding activity but H89 had no effect on protein binding to a kappaB motif. Additionally, H89 modestly inhibited PMA/Io-induced IL-2 secretion. In light of the modest involvement of the cAMP pathway in CBN-mediated inhibition of CREB and IL-2 in PMA/Io-activated thymocytes, PD098059 (PD), the MEK inhibitor, was utilized to determine the role of ERK MAP kinases in thymocytes. ERKs play a critical role in IL-2 production but not for CREB phsophorylation. Collectively, these findings suggest that CBN may modulate several signalling pathways in activated T cells.

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