The endocannabinoid system: a revolving plate in neuro-immune interaction in health and disease

Amino Acids. 2013 Jul;45(1):95-112. doi: 10.1007/s00726-012-1252-8. Epub 2012 Feb 26.


Studies of the last 40 years have brought to light an important physiological network, the endocannabinoid system. Endogenous and exogenous cannabinoids mediate their effects through activation of specific cannabinoid receptors. This modulatory homoeostatic system operates in the regulation of brain function and also in the periphery. The cannabinoid system has been shown to be involved in regulating the immune system. Studies examining the effect of cannabinoid-based drugs on immunity have shown that many cellular and cytokine mechanisms are modulated by these agents, thus raising the hypothesis that these compounds may be of value in the management of chronic inflammatory diseases. The special properties of endocannabinoids as neurotransmitters, their pleiotropic effects and the impact on immune function show that the endocannabinoid system represents a revolving plate of neural and immune interactions. In this paper, we outline current information on immune effects of cannabinoids in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Cannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immunity, Humoral
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Nervous System / drug effects
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / immunology*
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Cannabinoids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid