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J Immunol. 2015 Jun 1;194(11):5211-22. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1401844. Epub 2015 Apr 27.

Critical Role of Mast Cells and Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor γ in the Induction of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells by Marijuana Cannabidiol In Vivo.

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Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC 29209; and.
Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC 29209; and Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Columbia, SC 29208


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural nonpsychotropic cannabinoid from marijuana (Cannabis sativa) with anti-epileptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Effect of CBD on naive immune system is not precisely understood. In this study, we observed that administering CBD into naive mice triggers robust induction of CD11b(+)Gr-1(+) myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) in the peritoneum, which expressed functional arginase 1, and potently suppressed T cell proliferation ex vivo. Furthermore, CBD-MDSC suppressed LPS-induced acute inflammatory response upon adoptive transfer in vivo. CBD-induced suppressor cells were comprised of CD11b(+)Ly6-G(+)Ly6-C(+) granulocytic and CD11b(+)Ly6-G(-)Ly6-C(+) monocytic subtypes, with monocytic MDSC exhibiting higher T cell-suppressive function. Induction of MDSC by CBD was markedly attenuated in Kit-mutant (Kit(W/W-v)) mast cell-deficient mice. MDSC response was reconstituted upon transfer of wild-type bone marrow-derived mast cells in Kit(W/W-v) mice, suggesting the key role of cKit (CD117) as well as mast cells. Moreover, mast cell activator compound 48/80 induced significant levels of MDSC in vivo. CBD administration in mice induced G-CSF, CXCL1, and M-CSF, but not GM-CSF. G-CSF was found to play a key role in MDSC mobilization inasmuch as neutralizing G-CSF caused a significant decrease in MDSC. Lastly, CBD enhanced the transcriptional activity of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ in luciferase reporter assay, and PPAR-γ selective antagonist completely inhibited MDSC induction in vivo, suggesting its critical role. Together, the results suggest that CBD may induce activation of PPAR-γ in mast cells leading to secretion of G-CSF and consequent MDSC mobilization. CBD being a major component of Cannabis, our study indicates that marijuana may modulate or dysregulate the immune system by mobilizing MDSC.

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