Myocarditis is a major cause of heart failure and sudden cardiac death in young adults and adolescents. Many cases of myocarditis are associated with autoimmune processes in which cardiac myosin is a major autoantigen. Conventional immunosuppressive therapies often provide unsatisfactory results and are associated with adverse toxicities during the treatment of autoimmune myocarditis. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a nonpsychoactive constituent of marijuana that exerts antiinflammatory effects independent of classical cannabinoid receptors. Recently, 80 clinical trials have investigated the effects of CBD in various diseases from inflammatory bowel disease to graft versus host disease. CBD-based formulations are used for the management of multiple sclerosis in numerous countries, and CBD also received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment of refractory childhood epilepsy and glioblastoma multiforme. Herein, using a well-established mouse model of experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) induced by immunization with cardiac myosin emmulsified in adjuvant resulting in T cell-mediated inflammation, cardiomyocyte cell death, fibrosis and myocardial dysfunction, we studied the potential beneficial effects of CBD. EAM was characterized by marked myocardial T-cell infiltration, profound inflammatory response and fibrosis (measured by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, histology and immunohistochemistry analyses) accompanied by marked attenuation of both systolic and diastolic cardiac functions measured with a pressure-volume conductance catheter technique. Chronic treatment with CBD largely attenuated the CD3 + and CD4 + T cell-mediated inflammatory response and injury, myocardial fibrosis and cardiac dysfunction in mice. In conclusion, CBD may represent a promising novel treatment for managing autoimmune myocarditis and possibly other autoimmune disorders and organ transplantation.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare that they have no competing interests as defined by Molecular Medicine , or other interests that might be perceived to influence the results and discussion reported in this paper.
Introduction: Cannabinoids such as ▵-9-THC and CBD can downregulate the immune response by modulating the endocannabinoid system. This modulation is relevant for the treatment of prevalent autoimmune diseases (ADs), such as multiple sclerosis (MS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), diabetes mellitus type 1 (DMT1), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These conditions require new therapeutic options with fewer side effects for the control of the autoimmune response. Objective: to conduct a literature review of preclinical scientific evidence that supports further clinical investigations for the use of cannabinoids (natural or synthetic) as potential immunomodulators of the immune response in ADs. Methodology: A systematic search was carried out in different databases using different MeSH terms, such as Cannabis sativa L., cannabinoids, immunomodulation, and ADs. Initially, 677 journal articles were found. After filtering by publication date (from 2000 to 2020 for SLE, DMT1, and RA; and 2010 to 2020 for MS) and removing the duplicate items, 200 articles were selected and analyzed by title and summary associated with the use of cannabinoids as immunomodulatory treatment for those diseases. Results: Evidence of the immunomodulatory effect of cannabinoids in the diseases previously mentioned, but SLE that did not meet the search criteria, was summarized from 24 journal articles. CBD was found to be one of the main modulators of the immune response. This molecule decreased the number of Th1 and Th17 proinflammatory cells and the production of the proinflammatory cytokines, interleukin (IL)-1, IL-12, IL-17, interferon (IFN)-γ, and tumor necrosis factor alpha, in mouse models of MS and DMT1. Additionally, new synthetic cannabinoid-like molecules, with agonist or antagonist activity on CB1, CB2, TRPV1, PPAR-α, and PPAR-γ receptors, have shown anti-inflammatory properties in MS, DMT1, and RA. Conclusion: Data from experimental animal models of AD showed that natural and synthetic cannabinoids downregulate inflammatory responses mediated by immune cells responsible for AD chronicity and progression. Although synthetic cannabinoid-like molecules were evaluated in just two clinical trials, they corroborated the potential use of cannabinoids to treat some ADs. Notwithstanding, new cannabinoid-based approaches are required to provide alternative treatments to patients affected by the large group of ADs.
Keywords: Cannabis sativa L; autoimmune disease; cannabidiol; cannabinoids; delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol; literature review.