Adverse Effect of Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol on Human Neutrophil Function

  • Julie Y. Djeu
  • Min Wang
  • Herman Friedman
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 288)


Marijuana smoking has been reported to produce a variety of effects on the immune system of man. In 1974, Nahas et al. first described the defect in lympho-proliferative response to alloantigens in chronic marijuana smokers (1). Since then, numerous investigators have pursued studies involving the effects of various cannabinoids from marijuana, including the major psychoactive component, ?9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), found in the blood of marijuana smokers. We and others have previously documented that THC impairs lymphocyte responsiveness to mitogens (1–5), alters alveolar macrophage morphology, function, and mobility (6–8), decreases NK activity (9,10) and IFN production (11). However, the effect of cannabinoids on PMN is little known. One report cites the impairment of phagocytosis in PMN of marijuana smokers (12), but no studies to date exist on the direct effect of THC on PMN in vitro. As we have described earlier, PMN provide an effective mechanism against Candida albicans growth, and constitute a key defense system against opportunistic fungal infection (13,15). The likelihood exists that marijuana usage might adversely affect some of the immune mechanisms necessary for control of C. albicans. This could then provide an environment for further immune suppression by HIV in high risk individuals, leading to spread of opportunistic infections. Therefore, there is a need to begin to explore in depth the little-known effect of THC on human PMN and to investigate the effect of THC on defense against an opportunistic microbial agent such as C. albicans.


Phorbol Myristate Acetate Human Natural Killer Cell Marijuana Smoker Marijuana Usage Opportunistic Fungal Infection 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julie Y. Djeu
    • 1
  • Min Wang
    • 1
  • Herman Friedman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of South Florida College of MedicineTampaUSA

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