We investigated the in vitro effects of both psychoactive and nonpsychoactive marijuana components on leukocyte secretion of the immunoregulatory cytokines interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF), interferon-gamma (IFN) and interleukin-2 (IL-2). Psychoactive delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and nonpsychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) were added to cultures of mitogen-activated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and the concentrations of IL-1, TNF, IFN and IL-2 in culture supernatants were measured by ELISA systems. Concentrations of THC and CBD, comparable to plasma levels found after smoking marijuana (10-100 ng/ml), increased the concentration of measurable IFN (139 and 68%), while high concentrations of both cannabinoids (5-20 μg/ml) completely blocked synthesis and/or release of this cytokine. CBD was also shown to decrease the measurable quantity of both IL-1 and TNF. In contrast to the effects of IFN, IL-1 and TNF, both cannabinoids, had no effect on IL-2 secretion. This report suggests that both psychoactive and nonpsychoactive components of marijuana are immunomodulating and can potentially alter cytokine secretion of human PBMC.
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