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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1995;373:91-6.

Expression of cannabinoid receptor mRNA in murine and human leukocytes.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa 33612, USA.


delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the major psychoactive cannabinoid of marijuana modulates immune cells in vivo and in vitro. It is possible that the drug exerts it's effect either by inserting into and disrupting the cell membrane (nonreceptor mechanism) or by binding to a cannabinoid receptor moiety and thus altering cell function through some form of signal transduction. In the present study, we confirm and extend the findings that mouse and human immune cells express specific cannabinoid binding sites and cannabinoid receptor mRNA. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis showed the presence of receptor mRNA not only in the neuroblastoma cell line (N18TG-2), but also in mouse splenocytes and in cell lines such as NKB61A2 (a mouse natural killer-like), CTLL2 (a mouse IL2-dependent T cell), THP-1 (a human monocytic cell) and Raji (a human B cell) but not in Jurkat (a human T cell). Furthermore, the receptor mRNA was expressed in purified populations of resting splenic T and B lymphocytes but not in resting populations of enriched splenic macrophages. Finally, LPS-stimulated Raji and PMA-stimulated THP-1 human cell lines showed increased levels of the cannabinoid receptor mRNA. These results suggest cannabinoid receptors have biological relevance in lymphoid cells because: receptor mRNA is detected in some resting immune cells but not others and the mRNA increases during cell activation. The major psychoactive component of marijuana, delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has been shown to modulate human and mouse immune responses both in vitro and in vivo (1,2).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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