Comparative characterization in the rat of the interaction between cannabinoids and opiates for their immunosuppressive and analgesic effects

J Neuroimmunol. 2001 Jul 2;117(1-2):116-24. doi: 10.1016/s0165-5728(01)00323-x.


In the present work, we investigated in the rat the possibility of functional interaction between opiate and cannabinoid systems at immune level comparatively with the central nervous system (CNS). Moderate analgesic doses of the synthetic cannabinoid compound CP-55,940 (0.2 mg/kg, i.p.) and morphine (5 mg/kg, s.c.) significantly inhibited the ConA-induced splenocyte proliferation and natural killer (NK) cytolytic activity. The acute co-administration of the two drugs resulted in an enhancement of antinociception while they did not yield any additive inhibition of the immune parameters. The CB1 cannabinoid receptor antagonist N-(Piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-chlorophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (SR141716A; 3 mg/kg, i.p.) and the CB2 receptor antagonist N-[(1S)-endo-1,3,3-trimethhyl bicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-yl]-5-(4-chloro-3-methylphenyl)-1-(4-methylbenzyl)-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (SR144528; 3 mg/kg, i.p.) did not block the central nor the immune effects of morphine; similarly, the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone did not attenuate CP-55,940-induced effects. Animals tolerant to CP-55,940-induced (0.2 mg/kg, i.p.; twice a day for 4 days) or morphine-induced analgesia (5 mg/kg, s.c.; twice a day for 6 days) also developed tolerance to their acute immunosuppressive effects. Concomitantly, animals became cross-resistant to the immunosuppressive effects while an asymmetric cross-tolerance developed for analgesia. Our data demonstrated the existence of an interaction between cannabinoids and opiates at the immune level that differs from the interaction present in the CNS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Narcotics / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Analgesics
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Narcotics
  • Morphine
  • 3-(2-hydroxy-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)phenyl)-4-(3-hydroxypropyl)cyclohexanol