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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007 Nov;323(2):675-83. Epub 2007 Aug 28.

Modulation of airway responses to influenza A/PR/8/34 by Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol in C57BL/6 mice.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-1317, USA.


Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC) has been widely established as a modulator of host immune responses. Accordingly, the objective of the present study was to examine the effects of Delta(9)-THC on the immune response within the lungs and associated changes in the morphology of the bronchiolar epithelium after one challenge with a nonlethal dose of the influenza virus A/PR/8 (PR8). C57BL/6 mice were treated by oral gavage with Delta(9)-THC and/or vehicle (corn oil) for 5 consecutive days. On day 3, mice were instilled intranasally with 50 plaque-forming units of PR8 and/or vehicle (saline) 4 h before Delta(9)-THC exposure. Mice were subsequently killed 7 and 10 days postinfection (dpi). Viral hemagglutinin 1 (H1) mRNA levels in the lungs were increased in a dose-dependent manner with Delta(9)-THC treatment. Enumeration of inflammatory cell types in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid showed an attenuation of macrophages and CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells in Delta(9)-THC-treated mice compared with controls. Likewise, the magnitude of inflammation and virus-induced mucous cell metaplasia, as assessed by histopathology, was reduced in Delta(9)-THC-treated mice by 10 dpi. Collectively, these results suggest that Delta(9)-THC treatment increased viral load, as assessed by H1 mRNA levels, through a decrease in recruitment of macrophages and lymphocytes, particularly CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, to the lung.

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