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CB2 receptor-selective agonists as candidates for targeting infection, inflammation, and immunity in SARS-CoV-2 infections

By November 15, 2020November 16th, 2020No Comments

doi: 10.1002/ddr.21752.

Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 is a deadly disease afflicting millions. The pandemic continues affecting population due to nonavailability of drugs and vaccines. The pathogenesis and complications of infection mainly involve hyperimmune-inflammatory responses. Thus, therapeutic strategies rely on repurposing of drugs aimed at reducing infectivity and inflammation and modulate immunity favourably. Among, numerous therapeutic targets, the endocannabinoid system, particularly activation of cannabinoid type-2 receptors (CB2R) emerged as an important one to suppress the hyperimmune-inflammatory responses. Recently, potent antiinflammatory, antiviral and immunomodulatory properties of CB2R selective ligands of endogenous, plant, and synthetic origin were showed mediating CB2R selective functional agonism. CB2R activation appears to regulate numerous signaling pathways to control immune-inflammatory mediators including cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, prostanoids, and eicosanoids. Many CB2R ligands also exhibit off-target effects mediating activation of PPARs, opioids, and TRPV, suggestive of adjuvant use with existing drugs that may maximize efficacy synergistically and minimize therapeutic doses to limit adverse/ side effects. We hypothesize that CB2R agonists, due to immunomodulatory, antiinflammatory, and antiviral properties may show activity against COVID-19. Based on the organoprotective potential, relative safety, lack of psychotropic effects, and druggable properties, CB2R selective ligands might make available promising candidates for further investigation.


Keywords: COVID-19, cannabinoids, immunomodulators, inflammation

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