Impact of cannabidiol treatment on regulatory T-17 cells and neutrophil polarization in acute kidney injury

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2018 Oct 1;315(4):F1149-F1158. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00112.2018. Epub 2018 Jun 13.


Hallmark features of acute kidney injury (AKI) include mobilization of immune and inflammatory mechanisms culminating in tissue injury. Emerging information indicates heterogeneity of neutrophils with pro- and anti-inflammatory functions (N1 and N2, respectively). Also, regulatory T-17 (Treg17) cells curtail T helper 17 (Th-17)-mediated proinflammatory responses. However, the status of Treg17 cells and neutrophil phenotypes in AKI are not established. Furthermore, cannabidiol exerts immunoregulatory effects, but its impact on Treg17 cells and neutrophil subtypes is not established. Thus, we examined the status of Treg17 cells and neutrophil subtypes in AKI and determined whether cannabidiol favors regulatory neutrophils and T cells accompanied with renoprotection. Accordingly, mice were subjected to bilateral renal ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI), without or with cannabidiol treatment; thereafter, kidneys were processed for flow cytometry analyses. Renal IRI increased N1 and Th-17 but reduced N2 and Treg17 cells accompanied with disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential (ψm) and increased apoptosis/necrosis and kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1) immunostaining compared with their sham controls. Importantly, cannabidiol treatment preserved ψm and reduced cell death and KIM-1 accompanied by restoration of N1 and N2 imbalance and preservation of Treg17 cells while decreasing Th-17 cells. The ability of cannabidiol to favor development of Treg17 cells was further established using functional mixed lymphocytic reaction. Subsequent studies showed higher renal blood flow and reduced serum creatinine in cannabidiol-treated IRI animals. Collectively, our novel observations establish that renal IRI causes neutrophil polarization in favor of N1 and also reduces Treg17 cells in favor of Th-17, effects that are reversed by cannabidiol treatment accompanied with significant renoprotection.

Keywords: CBD; acute kidney injury; cannabidiol; neutrophil polarization; regulatory T-17 cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury / drug therapy*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Reperfusion Injury / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / drug effects*
  • Th17 Cells / metabolism


  • Cannabidiol