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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2018 May/Jun;52(5):e37-e43. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000755.

Cannabinoid Receptor 2 Functional Variant Contributes to the Risk for Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

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Departments of Women, Child and General and Specialist Surgery.
Experimental Medicine, Division of Pharmacology "Leonardo Donatelli," The Second University of Naples.
Department of Translational Medical Science, Section of Pediatrics, University of Naples "Federico II," Naples, Italy.



We conducted a case-control association analysis to establish the role of a common CB2 functional variant, Q63R, in the susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


Endocannabinoids may limit intestinal inflammation through cannabinoid receptor 1 and/or 2 (CB1, CB2).


We genotyped 217 pediatric IBD patients [112 Crohn's disease (CD), 105 ulcerative colitis (UC)] and 600 controls for the CB2-Q63R variant by Taqman assay. Data were collected from clinical records on age at diagnosis, disease activity, duration and location, extraintestinal manifestations, therapy, clinical relapses, and need for surgery.


We found a significant association of the CB2-R63 variant with IBD (allele frequencies, P=0.04; genotype distributions, P=0.0006), in particular with CD (allele frequencies, P=0.002; genotype distributions, P=0.00005) and with UC only for genotype distributions (P=0.03). RR carriers showed an increased risk for developing IBD [odds ratio (OR)=1.82; P=0.0002 for IBD; OR=2.02; P=10 for CD; OR=1.63; P=0.02 for UC at 95% confidence interval]. Upon genotype-phenotype evaluation, RR patients showed an increased frequency of moderate-to-severe disease activity at diagnosis in the case of both CD and UC (P=0.01 and P=0.02, respectively) and also an earlier clinical relapse in UC (P=0.04). In UC, all the clinical features related to the CB2 risk allele were still significantly associated with the variant when analyzed using a multivariate logistic regression model (P=0.001).


The CB2-Q63R variant contributes to the risk for pediatric IBD, in particular CD. The R63 variant is associated with a more severe phenotype in both UC and CD. Taken together, our data point toward the involvement of the CB2 receptor in the pathogenesis and clinical features of pediatric IBD.

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