Mechanisms of action of cannabidiol in adoptively transferred experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Exp Neurol. 2017 Dec;298(Pt A):57-67. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2017.08.017. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most important compounds in Cannabis sativa, lacks psychotropic effects, and possesses a high number of therapeutic properties including the amelioration of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). The aim of this study was to analyse the relative efficacy of CBD in adoptively transferred EAE (at-EAE), a model that allows better delineation of the effector phase of EAE. Splenocytes and lymph nodes from mice with actively induced EAE were cultured in the presence of MOG35-55 and IL-12 and inoculated intraperitoneally in recipient female C57BL/6J mice. The effects of CBD were evaluated using clinical scores and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In the central nervous system, the extent of cell infiltration, axonal damage, demyelination, microglial activation and cannabinoid receptors expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry. Lymph cell viability, apoptosis, oxidative stress and IL-6 production were measured in vitro. Preventive intraperitoneal treatment with CBD ameliorated the clinical signs of at-EAE, and this improvement was accompanied by a reduction of the apparent diffusion coefficient in the subiculum area of the brain. Inflammatory infiltration, axonal damage, and demyelination were reduced, and cannabinoid receptor expression was modulated. Incubation with CBD decreased encephalitogenic cell viability, increasing early apoptosis and reactive oxygen species (ROS) and decreasing IL-6 production. The reduction in viability was not mediated by CB1, CB2 or GPR55 receptors. CBD markedly improved the clinical signs of at-EAE and reduced infiltration, demyelination and axonal damage. The CBD-mediated decrease in the viability of encephalitogenic cells involves ROS generation, apoptosis and a decrease in IL-6 production and may contribute to the therapeutic effect of this compound.

Keywords: Cannabidiol; Cannabinoid; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer / methods*
  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology
  • Cannabidiol / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / drug therapy*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Random Allocation
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / agonists
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / metabolism


  • Interleukin-6
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Cannabidiol