Effects of cannabinoids and their receptors on viral infections

J Med Virol. 2016 Jan;88(1):1-12. doi: 10.1002/jmv.24292. Epub 2015 Jun 25.


Cannabinoids, the active ingredient in marijuana, and their derivatives have received remarkable attention in the last two decades because they can affect tumor growth and metastasis. There is a large body of evidence from in vivo and in vitro models showing that cannabinoids and their receptors influence the immune system, viral pathogenesis, and viral replication. The present study reviews current insights into the role of cannabinoids and their receptors on viral infections. The results reported here indicate that cannabinoids and their receptors have different sequels for viral infection. Although activation or inhibition of cannabinoid receptors in the majority of viral infections are proper targets for development of safe and effective treatments, caution is required before using pharmaceutical cannabinoids as a treatment agent for patients with viral infections.

Keywords: anti-inflammation; cannabinoid receptors; immunomodulation; marijuana; viral infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists / metabolism*
  • Cannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / metabolism*
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*


  • Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists
  • Cannabinoid Receptor Antagonists
  • Cannabinoids
  • Immunologic Factors