Unraveling the complexities of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) immune regulation in health and disease

Abstract

It has become clear that the endocannabinoid system is a potent regulator of immune responses, with the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) as the key component due to its high expression by all immune subtypes. CB2 has been shown to regulate immunity by a number of mechanisms including development, migration, proliferation, and effector functions. In addition, CB2 has been shown to modulate the function of all immune cell types examined to date. CB2 is a Gi-protein-coupled receptor and thus exhibits a complex pharmacology allowing both stimulatory and inhibitory signaling that depends on receptor expression levels, ligand concentration, and cell lineage specificities. Here, we discuss both in vitro and in vivo experimental evidence that CB2 is a potent regulator of immune responses making it a prime target for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Dr. C. C. Hillard for helpful discussions on cannabinoid biology, Dr. A. Ray for suggestions on the manuscript, and L. Gaspard for administrative assistance.

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Correspondence to Bonnie N. Dittel.

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Basu, S., Dittel, B.N. Unraveling the complexities of cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) immune regulation in health and disease. Immunol Res 51, 26–38 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12026-011-8210-5

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Keywords

  • Autoimmunity
  • Cannabinoid receptor 2
  • Endocannabinoid
  • GPCR
  • Immune system
  • Immune suppression