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Cannabinoid receptor 2 modulates susceptibility to experimental cerebral malaria through a CCL17-dependent mechanism.

By July 29, 2016 No Comments
2016 Jul 29. pii: jbc.M116.746594. [Epub ahead of print]


PM 1aCerebral malaria (CM) is a severe and often fatal complication of Plasmodium falciparum infection. It is characterized by parasite sequestration, a breakdown of the blood-brain-barrier and a strong inflammation in the brain. We investigated the role of the cannabinoidreceptor 2 (CB2), an important modulator of neuroinflammatory responses, in experimental cerebral malaria (ECM). Strikingly, mice with a deletion of the CB2-encoding gene (Cnr2-/-) mice inoculated with Plasmodium berghei ANKA-erythrocytes exhibited enhanced survival and a diminished blood-brain-barrier disruption. Therapeutic application of a specific CB2 antagonist also conferred increased ECM resistance in wild type mice. Hematopoietic-derived immune cells were responsible for the enhanced protection in bone-marrow-chimeric (BM)-Cnr2-/-mice. Mixed BM-chimeras further revealed that CB2-expressing cells contributed to ECM development. A heterogeneous CD11b+ cell population, containing macrophages and neutrophils, expanded in the Cnr2-/- spleen after infection and expressed macrophage mannose receptors, arginase-1 activity and IL-10. Also in the Cnr2-/- brain CD11b+ cells that expressed selected anti-inflammatory markers accumulated and expression of inflammatory mediators IFN-γ and TNF-α was reduced. Finally, the M2-macrophage chemokine CCL17 was identified as essential factor for enhanced survival in the absence of CB2, since CCL17 x Cnr2 double-deficient mice were fully susceptible to ECM. Thus, targeting CB2 may be promising for the development of alternative treatment regimes of ECM.
Copyright © 2016, The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


chemokine; endocannabinoid; macrophage; malaria; neuroinflammation

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