Cannabis, the Endocannabinoid System and Immunity-the Journey From the Bedside to the Bench and Back

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Jun 23;21(12):E4448. doi: 10.3390/ijms21124448.

Abstract

The Cannabis plant contains numerous components, including cannabinoids and other active molecules. The phyto-cannabinoid activity is mediated by the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids affect the nervous system and play significant roles in the regulation of the immune system. While Cannabis is not yet registered as a drug, the potential of cannabinoid-based medicines for the treatment of various conditions has led many countries to authorize their clinical use. However, the data from basic and medical research dedicated to medical Cannabis is currently limited. A variety of pathological conditions involve dysregulation of the immune system. For example, in cancer, immune surveillance and cancer immuno-editing result in immune tolerance. On the other hand, in autoimmune diseases increased immune activity causes tissue damage. Immuno-modulating therapies can regulate the immune system and therefore the immune-regulatory properties of cannabinoids, suggest their use in the therapy of immune related disorders. In this contemporary review, we discuss the roles of the endocannabinoid system in immunity and explore the emerging data about the effects of cannabinoids on the immune response in different pathologies. In addition, we discuss the complexities of using cannabinoid-based treatments in each of these conditions.

Keywords: Cannabis; autoimmune; bacteria; cancer; cannabinoid; immune; infectious diseases; inflammation; transplantation; virus.

Publication types

  • Review