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J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2015 Jun;10(2):318-32. doi: 10.1007/s11481-015-9611-3. Epub 2015 May 16.

A CB2-Selective Cannabinoid Suppresses T-Cell Activities and Increases Tregs and IL-10.

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Center for Substance Abuse Research, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


We have previously shown that agonists selective for the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2), including O-1966, inhibit the Mixed Lymphocyte Reaction (MLR), an in vitro correlate of organ graft rejection, predominantly through effects on T-cells. Current studies explored the mechanism of this immunosuppression by O-1966 using mouse spleen cells. Treatment with O-1966 dose-relatedly decreased levels of the active nuclear forms of the transcription factors NF-κB and NFAT in wild-type T-cells, but not T-cells from CB2 knockout (CB2R k/o) mice. Additionally, a gene expression profile of purified T-cells from MLR cultures generated using a PCR T-cell activation array showed that O-1966 decreased mRNA expression of CD40 ligand and CyclinD3, and increased mRNA expression of Src-like-adaptor 2 (SLA2), Suppressor of Cytokine Signaling 5 (SOCS5), and IL-10. The increase in IL-10 was confirmed by measuring IL-10 protein levels in MLR culture supernatants. Further, an increase in the percentage of regulatory T-cells (Tregs) was observed in MLR cultures. Pretreatment with anti-IL-10 resulted in a partial reversal of the inhibition of proliferation and blocked the increase of Tregs. Additionally, O-1966 treatment caused a dose-related decrease in the expression of CD4 in MLR cultures from wild-type, but not CB2R k/o, mice. These data support the potential of CB2-selective agonists as useful therapeutic agents to prolong graft survival in transplant patients, and strengthens their potential as a new class of immunosuppressive agents with broader applicability.

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