Cannabidiol increases gramicidin current in human embryonic kidney cells: An observational study

PLoS One. 2022 Aug 1;17(8):e0271801. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0271801. eCollection 2022.


Gramicidin is a monomeric protein that is thought to non-selectively conduct cationic currents and water. Linear gramicidin is considered an antibiotic. This function is considered to be mediated by the formation of pores within the lipid membrane, thereby killing bacterial cells. The main non-psychoactive active constituent of the cannabis plant, cannabidiol (CBD), has recently gained interest, and is proposed to possess various potential therapeutic properties, including being an antibiotic. We previously determined that CBD's activity on ion channels could be, in part, mediated by altering membrane biophysical properties, including elasticity. In this study, our goal was to determine the empirical effects of CBD on gramicidin currents in human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells, seeking to infer potential direct compound-protein interactions. Our results indicate that gramicidin, when applied to the extracellular HEK cell membrane, followed by CBD perfusion, increases the gramicidin current.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cannabidiol* / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis* / metabolism
  • Gramicidin / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Kidney / metabolism


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gramicidin
  • Cannabidiol

Grant support

Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Rare Disease Foundation to PCR and M-RG (CGS-D: 535333-2019 & MSFSS: 546467-2019), a MITACS Accelerate fellowship in partnership with Xenon Pharma, Inc. to M-RG (IT10714).