Background: Some of cannabinoids, which are chemical compounds contained in marijuana, are immunosuppressive. One of the receptors, CB receptor 1 (CB1), is expressed predominantly by the cells in the central nervous system, whereas CB receptor 2 (CB(2)) is expressed primarily by immune cells. Theoretically, selective CB(2) agonists should be devoid of psychoactive effects. In this study, we investigated therapeutic effects of a selective CB(2) agonist on arthritis.
Methods: The expression of CB(2) was analyzed with immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Interleukin (IL)-6, matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3), and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) were quantified with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Osteoclastogenesis was assessed with tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase staining and the resorption of coated-calcium phosphate. Effect of JWH133, a selective CB(2) agonist, on murine collagen type II (CII)-induced arthritis (CIA) was evaluated with arthritis score, and histological and radiographic changes. IFN-γ and IL-17 production by CII-stimulated splenocytes and serum anti-CII Ab were analyzed by ELISA.
Results: Immunohistochemistry showed that CB(2) was expressed more in the synovial tissues from the rheumatoid joints than in those from the osteoarthritis joints. CB(2) expression on RA FLS was confirmed with Western blot analysis. JWH133 inhibited IL-6, MMP-3, and CCL2 production from tumor necrosis factor-α-stimulated fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLS) derived from the rheumatoid joints, and osteoclastogenesis of peripheral blood monocytes. Administration of JWH133 to CIA mice reduced the arthritis score, inflammatory cell infiltration, bone destruction, and anti-CII IgG1 production.
Conclusion: The present study suggests that a selective CB(2) agonist could be a new therapy for RA that inhibits production of inflammatory mediators from FLS, and osteoclastogenesis.