Potential to use cannabinoids as adjunct therapy for dexamethasone: An in vitro study with canine peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2024 Mar:269:110727. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2024.110727. Epub 2024 Feb 1.


Dexamethasone (dex) is a potent glucocorticoid used to treat a variety of diseases. It is widely used in veterinary medicine in many species; for instance, in dogs, it can be used for emergent cases of anaphylaxis or trauma, management of immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia, certain cancers, allergic reactions, and topically for skin or eye inflammation. Dex is not without its side effects, especially when administered systemically, which might compromise compliance and effective treatment. Thus, adjunct therapies have been suggested to allow for decreased dex dosing and reduction in side effects while maintaining immunosuppressive efficacy. The goal of this study was to evaluate the potential for cannabinoids to serve as adjunct therapies for dex. Immune function was assessed in canine peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) after treatment with dex with and without cannabidiol (CBD) and/or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Dex suppressed IFN-γ protein secretion in a concentration-dependent manner and this suppression by low concentrations of dex was enhanced in the presence of CBD, THC, or the combination of CBD and THC. Similar effects were found with INFG and TNFA mRNA expression. These findings provide a rationale for using CBD or THC in vivo to reduce dex dosing and side effects.

Keywords: Canine; Cannabinoids; Cytokines; Dexamethasone; Immunosuppression.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cannabidiol* / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids* / therapeutic use
  • Dexamethasone / therapeutic use
  • Dogs
  • Dronabinol / therapeutic use
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear


  • Cannabinoids
  • Dronabinol
  • Cannabidiol
  • Dexamethasone