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J Leukoc Biol. 2007 Jan;81(1):336-43. Epub 2006 Oct 13.

Transcriptional regulation of the cannabinoid receptor type 1 gene in T cells by cannabinoids.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Magdeburg, Leipzigerstr. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.


Effects of cannabinoids (CBs) are mediated by two types of receptors, CB1 and CB2. In this report, we investigated whether CBs regulate gene expression of their cognate receptors in T cells and studied underlying mechanisms in CD4+ Jurkat T cells. Transcription of the CB1 gene was strongly induced in response to Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), whereas the CB2 gene was not regulated. The induction of CB1 gene expression is mediated by CB2 receptors only, as demonstrated by using the CB1 and CB2 agonists R(+)-methanandamide and JWH 015, respectively, and combinations of THC plus CB1- and CB2-specific antagonists. After activation of CB2 receptors, the transcription factor STAT5 is phosphorylated. STAT5 then transactivates IL-4. Induction of IL-4 mRNA as well as IL-4 protein release from the cells are necessary for the following induction of the CB1 gene. This was demonstrated by using decoy oligonucleotides against STAT5, which blocked IL-4 and CB1 mRNA induction, and by using the IL-4 receptor antagonist IL-4 [R121D,Y124D], which blocked the up-regulation of CB1 gene transcription. Transactivation of the CB1 gene in response to IL-4 is then mediated by the transcription factor STAT6, as shown by using decoy oligonucleotides against STAT6. An increase in CB1-mediated phosphorylation of MAPK in cells prestimulated with CB2-specific agonists suggests up-regulation of functional CB1 receptor proteins. In summary, up-regulation of CB1 in T lymphocytes in response to CBs themselves may facilitate or enhance the various immunomodulatory effects related to CBs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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