Medical Research

CBD effects on immunity

Written by Sabina Pulone

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis plants and it acts on the endocannabinoid system modulating various biological effects, including immune response and inflammation among others. An appropriate immune response requires a regulated balance between a strong response against foreign invaders, but limited reactions against self. Communication between various cell types responsible for innate and adaptive immune response is mediated by expressed or secreted proteins called cytokines. Neutrophils, macrophages and other myeloid cells comprising the innate immune system react to quickly destroy the pathogens. In case of necessity certain innate cells can activate adaptive immune response thus T and B cells. T cells can recruit and activate other immune cells, induce apoptosis of infected cells and stimulate B cells which in turn produce antibodies to neutralize pathogens. [1] CBD is capable of maintaining a balanced and healthy immune system by acting as an immunosuppressant and immunomodulator. CBD’s immune system suppression is mediated by direct inhibition of various cell types, induction of apoptosis and promotion of regulatory cells which control other immune cell targets. [1] CBD is an activator of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 2 (TRPV2) and other transient receptor potential (TRP) channels: these proteins facilitate the interaction of cells with their extracellular environment playing an important role in healthy immune system function. [2] It has been demonstrated that CBD significantly suppress the functioning and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in a dose-dependent manner: by regulating these proteins, CBD helps reducing the production of white blood cells and modulating the immune system’s inflammatory response. Increasing our understanding of CBD’s effects in response to various immune stimuli different in entity, will help to define CBD effects on human health and other species exposed to a variety of pathogens. More studies are needed to identify all the receptor through which CBD acts in the immune system and to define CBD dosing , pharmacokinetics and administration routes to improve the immunomodulation effect.



[1] Nichols J. M. et al. Immune Responses Regulated by Cannabidiol. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, (), can.2018.0073–. (2019)  doi:10.1089/can.2018.0073 [Journal Impact Factor = 5.764] [Times cited = 80]


[2] Pumroy R.A. et al. Molecular mechanism of TRPV2 channel modulation by cannabidiol. Elife. (2019)  pii: e48792. [Journal Impact Factor = 8.14] [Times cited = 56]



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Sabina Pulone

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