Cannabis use by individuals with multiple sclerosis: effects on specific immune parameters

Inflammopharmacology. 2014 Oct;22(5):295-303. doi: 10.1007/s10787-014-0214-z. Epub 2014 Aug 19.


Cannabinoids affect immune responses in ways that may be beneficial for autoimmune diseases. We sought to determine whether chronic Cannabis use differentially modulates a select number of immune parameters in healthy controls and individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS cases). Subjects were enrolled and consented to a single blood draw, matched for age and BMI. We measured monocyte migration isolated from each subject, as well as plasma levels of endocannabinoids and cytokines. Cases met definition of MS by international diagnostic criteria. Monocyte cell migration measured in control subjects and individuals with MS was similarly inhibited by a set ratio of phytocannabinoids. The plasma levels of CCL2 and IL17 were reduced in non-naïve cannabis users irrespective of the cohorts. We detected a significant increase in the endocannabinoid arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) in serum from individuals with MS compared to control subjects, and no significant difference in levels of other endocannabinoids and signaling lipids irrespective of Cannabis use. Chronic Cannabis use may affect the immune response to similar extent in individuals with MS and control subjects through the ability of phytocannabinoids to reduce both monocyte migration and cytokine levels in serum. From a panel of signaling lipids, only the levels of AEA are increased in individuals with MS, irrespective of Cannabis use or not. Our results suggest that both MS cases and controls respond similarly to chronic Cannabis use with respect to the immune parameters measured in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism
  • Cannabinoids / administration & dosage*
  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Chemokine CCL2 / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / blood
  • Male
  • Marijuana Smoking / metabolism*
  • Monocytes / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / metabolism


  • Arachidonic Acids
  • CCL2 protein, human
  • Cannabinoids
  • Chemokine CCL2
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Interleukin-17
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • anandamide