Cannabinoids are a group of chemicals derived from the cannabis plant (cannabis sativa). Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of these chemicals and research has shown that it has anti inflammatory properties to heal animals with nervous system disorders. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is another one of these compounds that wields a psychoactive effect in animals.
Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are found in the endogenous cannabinoid system and allow cannabinoids to bind and do their job in the body. This review will evaluate cannabinoids potential in debilitating immune system related disorders, mainly epilepsy.
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The impact of cannabimimetic drugs on the function of immune cells such as T and B lymphocytes, natural killer cells and macrophages has been substantially studied over the past few decades using human and animal paradigms including whole animal models as well as tissue culture networks.
From this work, it can be said that these agents have subtle yet complicated impacts on immune cell function and that some of the drug activity is changed by cannabinoid receptors expressed on the various immune cell subtypes. However, the overall role of the cannabinoid network of receptors and ligands in human health and disorder is still not transparent and needs massive elucidation.
Further research will describe the precise structure and function of the putative immune cannabinoid network, the possible therapeutic usefulness of these drugs in chronic disorders such as acquired immune deficiency syndrome and multiple sclerosis, the impacts of these drugs on tumour development and induction of apoptosis, and the possible anti-inflammatory and proinflammatory properties of cannabimimetic chemicals.
It is probable that the cannabinoid system, along with other neuroimmune networks, has a subtle but massive roles in the controlling of immunity and that this role can actually be exploited in the regulation of human disease.
Numerous factors indicate exaggerated use of cannabis and cannabinoids in the United States and Canada over the next couple of years. Although much has been learned concerning the chemistry and biology of these drugs, much more requires to be found in all areas of cannabinoid biology, including impacts on immune working.
The immune system is extremely complex, consisting of a variety of organs, cells, tissues and soluble factors working together to cultivate a plethora of functions. This complexity makes for many avenues for cannabinoids to change immune function, and over the last decade or so, many of these avenues have been evaluated. From a variety of experimental paradigms, cannabinoids have been seen repeatedly to alter immune function.
However, from this research, it cannot be concluded that cannabis smoking causes serious immunodeficiency in humans. What can be drawn from this study is that these agents have the possibility to change immune function through both receptor- and non-receptor-altered mechanisms.
Clearly, more studies are required to determine the exact structure and function of the putative immunocannabinoid system; the possible therapeutic usefulness of these drugs in chronic diseases such as AIDS and multiple sclerosis; the impacts of these drugs on tumour development and induction of apoptosis; and the possible anti-inflammatory and proinflammatory abilities of cannabimimetic chemicals.
It is likely that the cannabinoid network, along with other neuroimmune networks, has a subtle but important role.