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Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Jan;153(2):271-6. Epub 2007 Oct 8.

Direct suppression of autoreactive lymphocytes in the central nervous system via the CB2 receptor.

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BloodCenter of Wisconsin, Blood Research Institute, Milwaukee, WI 53201-2178, USA.


The cannabinoid system is now recognized as a regulator of both the nervous and immune systems. Although marijuana has been used for centuries for the treatment of a variety of disorders, its therapeutic mechanisms are only now being understood. The best-studied plant cannabinoid, delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), produced by Cannabis sativa and found in marijuana, has shown evidence of being immunosuppressive in both in vivo and in vitro. Since THC binds to at least two receptors that are differentially expressed by the immune and nervous systems, it has not been possible to clearly discriminate the biological effects it exerts in the two systems. In addition, endogenous cannabinoids have also been described that bind to both receptors and exert both neuronal and immune modulatory activity. The generation of mice deficient in specific cannabinoid receptors has facilitated studies to discriminate cannabinoid-specific functions. This review focuses on the function of the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), primarily expressed in the immune system, in regulating T cell effector functions associated with autoimmune inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS).

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