Cannabinoids apparently act on inflammation through mechanisms different from those of agents such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). As a class, the cannabinoids are generally free from the adverse effects associated with NSAIDs. Their clinical development thus provides a new approach to treatment of diseases characterized by acute and chronic inflammation and fibrosis. A concise survey of the anti-inflammatory actions of the phytocannabinoids Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol, cannabichromene, and cannabinol is presented. Mention is also made of the noncannabinoid plant components and pyrolysis products, followed by a discussion of 3 synthetic preparations-Cesamet (nabilone; Meda Pharmaceuticals, Somerset, NJ, USA), Marinol (dronabinol; THC; AbbVie, Inc., North Chicago, IL, USA), and Sativex (Cannabis extract; GW Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge United Kingdom)-that have anti-inflammatory effects. A fourth synthetic cannabinoid, ajulemic acid (AJA; CT-3; Resunab; Corbus Pharmaceuticals, Norwood, MA, USA), is discussed in greater detail because it represents the most recent advance in this area and is currently undergoing 3 phase 2 clinical trials by Corbus Pharmaceuticals. The endogenous cannabinoids, including the closely related lipoamino acids, are then discussed. The review concludes with a presentation of a possible mechanism for the anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic actions of these substances. Thus, several cannabinoids may be considered candidates for development as anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic agents. Of special interest is their possible use for treatment of chronic inflammation, a major unmet medical need.-Zurier, R. B., Burstein, S. H. Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis.
Keywords: anti-inflammatory; antifibrotic; endocannabinoids; specialized proresolving mediators.