Endocannabinoids and some phytocannabinoids bind to CB1 and CB2cannabinoid receptors, transient receptor potential vanilloid one (TRPV1) receptor and the orphan G protein receptor fifty-five (GPR55). Studies using C57BL/10 and C57BL/6 (Cnr2tm1Zim) CB2 cannabinoid receptor knockout mice have demonstrated an immune-augmenting effect in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) models of multiple sclerosis. However, other EAE studies in Biozzi ABH mice often failed to show any treatment effect of either CB2 receptor agonism or antagonism on inhibition of T cell autoimmunity. The influence of genetic background on the induction of EAE in endocannabinoid system-related gene knockout mice was examined. It was found that C57BL/6.GPR55 knockout mice developed less severe disease, notably in female mice, following active induction with myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein 35-55 peptide. In contrast C57BL/6.CB2(Cnr2Dgen) receptor knockout mice developed augmented severity of disease consistent with the genetically and pharmacologically-distinct, Cnr2tm1Zimmice. However, when the knockout gene was bred into the ABH mouse background and EAE induced with spinal cord autoantigens the immune-enhancing effect of CB2 receptor deletion was lost. Likewise CB1 receptor and transient receptor potential vanilloid one knockout mice on the ABH background demonstrated no alteration in immune-susceptibility, in terms of disease incidence and severity of EAE, in contrast to that reported in some C57BL/6 mouse studies. Furthermore the immune-modulating influence of GPR55 was marginal on the ABH mouse background. Whilst sedative doses of tetrahydrocannabinol could induce immunosuppression, this was associated with a CB1 receptor rather than a CB2 receptor-mediated effect. These data support the fact that non-psychoactive doses of medicinal cannabis have a marginal influence on the immune response in MS. Importantly, it adds a note of caution for the translational value of some transgenic/gene knockout and other studies on low-EAE susceptibility backgrounds with inconsistent disease course and susceptibility.
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