Cannabidiol differentially regulates basal and LPS-induced inflammatory responses in macrophages, lung epithelial cells, and fibroblasts

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2019 Nov 1;382:114713. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2019.114713. Epub 2019 Aug 19.


Introduction: Cannabidiol (CBD) containing products are available in a plethora of flavors in oral, sublingual, and inhalable forms. Immunotoxicological effects of CBD containing liquids were assessed by hypothesizing that CBD regulates oxidative stress and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced inflammatory responses in macrophages, epithelial cells, and fibroblasts.

Methods: Epithelial cells (BEAS-2B and NHBE), macrophages (U937), and lung fibroblast cells (HFL-1) were treated with varying CBD concentrations or exposed to CBD aerosols. Generated reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inflammatory mediators were measured. Furthermore, monocytes and epithelial cells were stimulated with LPS in combination with CBD or dexamethasone to understand the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD.

Results: CBD showed differential effects on IL-8 and MCP-1, and acellular and cellular ROS levels. CBD significantly attenuated LPS-induced NF-κB activity, IL-8, and MCP-1 release from macrophages. Cytokine array data depicted a differential cytokine response due to CBD. Inflammatory mediators, IL-8, serpin E1, CXCL1, IL-6, MIF, IFN-γ, MCP-1, RANTES, and TNF-α were induced, whereas MCP-1/CCL2, CCL5, eotaxin, and IL-2 were reduced. CBD and dexamethasone treatments reduced the IL-8 level induced by LPS when the cells were treated individually, but showed antagonistic effects when used in combination via MCPIP (monocytic chemotactic protein-induced protein).

Conclusion: CBD differentially regulated basal pro-inflammatory response and attenuated both LPS-induced cytokine release and NF-κB activity in monocytes, similar to dexamethasone. Thus, CBD has a differential inflammatory response and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in pro-inflammatory conditions but acts as an antagonist with steroids, overriding the anti-inflammatory potential of steroids when used in combination.

Keywords: CBD; E-cigarette; E-liquid; Lung; Marijuana; Vaping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / agonists
  • Inflammation Mediators / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Mice
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Respiratory Mucosa / cytology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism
  • U937 Cells


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Cannabidiol