Human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells secrete endocannabinoids that stimulate in vitro hematopoietic stem cell migration effectively comparable to beta-adrenergic stimulation

Exp Hematol. 2018 Jan;57:30-41.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.exphem.2017.09.009. Epub 2017 Oct 10.


Granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is a well-known hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)-mobilizing agent used in both allogeneic and autologous transplantation. However, a proportion of patients or healthy donors fail to mobilize a sufficient number of cells. New mobilization agents are therefore needed. Endocannabinoids (eCBs) are endogenous lipid mediators generated in the brain and peripheral tissues and activate the cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2. We suggest that eCBs may act as mobilizers of HSCs from the bone marrow (BM) under stress conditions as beta-adrenergic receptors (Adrβ). This study demonstrates that BM mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) secrete anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonylglycerol (2-AG) and the peripheral blood (PB) and BM microenvironment contain AEA and 2-AG. 2-AG levels are significantly higher in PB of the G-CSF-treated group compared with BM plasma. BM mononuclear cells (MNCs) and CD34+ HSCs express CB1, CB2, and Adrβ subtypes. CD34+ HSCs had higher CB1 and CB2 receptor expression in G-CSF-untreated and G-CSF-treated groups compared with MSCs. MNCs but not MSCs expressed CB1 and CB2 receptors based on qRT-PCR and flow cytometry. AEA- and 2-AG-stimulated HSC migration was blocked by eCB receptor antagonists in an in vitro migration assay. In conclusion, components of the eCB system and their interaction with Adrβ subtypes were demonstrated on HSCs and MSCs of G-CSF-treated and G-CSF-untreated healthy donors in vitro, revealing that eCBs might be potential candidates to enhance or facilitate G-CSF-mediated HSC migration under stress conditions in a clinical setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Adult
  • Arachidonic Acids / analysis
  • Arachidonic Acids / metabolism*
  • Arachidonic Acids / pharmacology
  • Bone Marrow / chemistry
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cellular Microenvironment
  • Endocannabinoids / analysis
  • Endocannabinoids / metabolism*
  • Endocannabinoids / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Glycerides / analysis
  • Glycerides / metabolism*
  • Glycerides / pharmacology
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Mobilization*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Plasma
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / analysis
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / pharmacology
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1 / genetics
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / drug effects
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2 / genetics
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / drug effects
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / genetics
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics
  • Young Adult


  • Adrenergic beta-Antagonists
  • Arachidonic Acids
  • Endocannabinoids
  • Glycerides
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB1
  • Receptor, Cannabinoid, CB2
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • glyceryl 2-arachidonate
  • anandamide