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Int J Immunopharmacol. 1991;13(8):1091-7.

Marijuana components stimulate human peripheral blood mononuclear cell secretion of interferon-gamma and suppress interleukin-1 alpha in vitro.

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Department of Family and Community Medicine, Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson.


We investigated the in vitro effects of both psychoactive and nonpsychoactive marijuana components on leukocyte secretion of the immunoregulatory cytokines interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), interferon-gamma (IFN) and interleukin-2 (IL-2). Psychoactive delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and nonpsychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) were added to cultures of mitogen-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and the concentrations of IL-1, TNF, IFN and IL-2 in culture supernatants were measured by ELISA systems. Concentrations of THC and CBD, comparable to plasma levels found after smoking marijuana (10-100 ng/ml), increased the concentration of measurable IFN (139 and 68%), while high concentrations of both cannabinoids (5-20 micrograms/ml) completely blocked synthesis and/or release of this cytokine. CBD was also shown to decrease the measurable quantity of both IL-1 and TNF. In contrast to the effects on IFN, IL-1 and TNF, both cannabinoids, had no effect on IL-2 secretion. This report suggests that both psychoactive and nonpsychoactive components of marijuana are immunomodulating and can potentially alter cytokine secretion of human PBMC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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