Impact of Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Endocannabinoids in the Lungs

Front Pharmacol. 2016 Sep 15:7:317. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2016.00317. eCollection 2016.


Since the identification of cannabinoid receptors in the 1990s, a research field has been dedicated to exploring the role of the cannabinoid system in immunity and the inflammatory response in human tissues and animal models. Although the cannabinoid system is present and crucial in many human tissues, studying the impact of cannabinoids on the lungs is particularly relevant because of their contact with exogenous cannabinoids in the context of marijuana consumption. In the past two decades, the scientific community has gathered a large body of evidence supporting that the activation of the cannabinoid system alleviates pain and reduces inflammation. In the context of lung inflammation, exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids have shown therapeutic potential because of their inhibitory effects on immune cell recruitment and functions. On the other hand, cannabinoids were shown to be deleterious to lung function and to impact respiratory pathogen clearance. In this review, we present the existing data on the regulation of lung immunity and inflammation by phytocannabinoids, synthetic cannabinoids and endocannabinoids.

Keywords: cannabinoid; endocannabinoid; host defense; inflammation; lung.

Publication types

  • Review