Cannabinoids stimulate fibroblastic colony formation by bone marrow cells indirectly via CB2 receptors

Calcif Tissue Int. 2007 Jan;80(1):50-9. doi: 10.1007/s00223-006-0171-7. Epub 2007 Jan 4.


Recently, the cannabinoid receptors CB(1) and CB(2) were shown to modulate bone formation and resorption in vivo, although little is known of the mechanisms underlying this. The effects of cannabinoids on mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) recruitment in whole bone marrow were investigated using either the fibroblastic colony-forming unit (CFU-f) assay or high-density cultures of whole bone marrow. Levels of the CB(1) and CB(2) receptors were assessed by flow cytometry. Treatment of CFU-f cultures with the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) dose-dependently increased fibroblastic and differentiated colony formation along with colony size. The nonspecific agonists CP 55,940 and WIN 55,212 both increased colony numbers, as did the CB(2) agonists BML190 and JWH015. The CB(1)-specific agonist ACEA had no effect, whereas the CB(2) antagonist AM630 blocked the effect of the natural cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabivarin, confirming mediation via the CB(2) receptor. Treatment of primary bone marrow cultures with 2-AG stimulated proliferation and collagen accumulation, whereas treatment of subcultures of MSC had no effect, suggesting that the target cell is not the MSC but an accessory cell present in bone marrow. Subcultures of MSCs were negative for CB(1) and CB(2) receptors as shown by flow cytometry, whereas whole bone marrow contained a small population of cells positive for both receptors. These data suggest that cannabinoids may stimulate the recruitment of MSCs from the bone marrow indirectly via an accessory cell and mediated via the CB(2) receptor. This recruitment may be one mechanism responsible for the increased bone formation seen after cannabinoid treatment in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arachidonic Acids / pharmacology
  • Benzoxazines
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / physiology
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators / pharmacology
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Cyclohexanols / pharmacology
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides / pharmacology
  • Indomethacin / analogs & derivatives
  • Indomethacin / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology
  • Morpholines / pharmacology
  • Naphthalenes / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / physiology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / drug effects*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / physiology
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Stem Cells / physiology


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Benzoxazines
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Modulators
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cyclohexanols
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides
  • Morpholines
  • Naphthalenes
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • indomethacin morpholinylamide
  • (3R)-((2,3-dihydro-5-methyl-3-((4-morpholinyl)methyl)pyrrolo-(1,2,3-de)-1,4-benzoxazin-6-yl)(1-naphthalenyl))methanone
  • 3-(2-hydroxy-4-(1,1-dimethylheptyl)phenyl)-4-(3-hydroxypropyl)cyclohexanol
  • glyceryl 2-arachidonate
  • Indomethacin