Cannabinoid receptor type 1 and 2 expression in the skin of healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis

Am J Vet Res. 2012 Jul;73(7):988-95. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.73.7.988.


Objective: To determine the distribution of cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2) in skin (including hair follicles and sweat and sebaceous glands) of clinically normal dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis (AD) and to compare results with those for positive control samples for CB1 (hippocampus) and CB2 (lymph nodes).

Sample: Skin samples from 5 healthy dogs and 5 dogs with AD and popliteal lymph node and hippocampus samples from 5 cadavers of dogs.

Procedures: CB1 and CB2 were immunohistochemically localized in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections of tissue samples.

Results: In skin samples of healthy dogs, CB1 and CB2 immunoreactivity was detected in various types of cells in the epidermis and in cells in the dermis, including perivascular cells with mast cell morphology, fibroblasts, and endothelial cells. In skin samples of dogs with AD, CB1 and CB2 immunoreactivity was stronger than it was in skin samples of healthy dogs. In positive control tissue samples, CB1 immunoreactivity was detected in all areas of the hippocampus, and CB2 immunoreactivity was detected in B-cell zones of lymphoid follicles.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: The endocannabinoid system and cannabimimetic compounds protect against effects of allergic inflammatory disorders in various species of mammals. Results of the present study contributed to knowledge of the endocannabinoid system and indicated this system may be a target for treatment of immune-mediated and inflammatory disorders such as allergic skin diseases in dogs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopsy / veterinary
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / metabolism
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / metabolism*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Immunohistochemistry / veterinary
  • Male
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / biosynthesis*
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / biosynthesis*
  • Skin / metabolism*


  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2