Journal of neuroinflammation

Cannabinoid receptor type-2 stimulation, blockade, and deletion alter the vascular inflammatory responses to traumatic brain injury.

PMID 25416141


Immunomodulatory therapies have been identified as interventions for secondary injury after traumatic brain injury (TBI). The cannabinoid receptor type-2 (CB2R) is proposed to play an important, endogenous role in regulating inflammation. The effects of CB2R stimulation, blockade, and deletion on the neurovascular inflammatory responses to TBI were assessed. Wild-type C57BL/6 or CB2R knockout mice were randomly assigned to controlled cortical impact (CCI) injury or to craniotomy control groups. The effects of treatment with synthetic, selective CB2R agonists (0-1966 and JWH-133), a selective CB2R antagonist, or vehicle solution administered to CCI groups were assessed at 1-day after injury. Changes in TNF-α, intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), macrophage/microglial ionized calcium-binding adaptor molecule, and blood-brain-barrier (BBB) permeability were assessed using ELISA, quantitative RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and fluorometric analysis of sodium fluorescein uptake. CB2R knockouts and wild-type mice with CCI injury were treated with a CB2R agonist or vehicle treatment. TNF-α mRNA increased at 6xa0hours and 1 to 3xa0days after CCI; a CB2R antagonist and genetic knockout of the CB2R exacerbated TNF-α mRNA expression. Treatment with a CB2R agonist attenuated TNF-α protein levels indicating post-transcriptional mechanisms. Intracellular adhesion molecule (ICAM-1) mRNA was increased at 6xa0hours, and at 1 to 2xa0days after CCI, reduced in mice treated with a CB2R agonist, and increased in CB2R knockout mice with CCI. Sodium fluorescein uptake was increased in CB2R knockouts after CCI, with and without a CB2R agonist. iNOS mRNA expression peaked early (6xa0hours) and remained increased from 1 to 3xa0days after injury. Treatment with a CB2R agonist attenuated increases in iNOS mRNA expression, while genetic deletion of the CB2R resulted in substantial increases in iNOS expression. Double label immunohistochemistry confirmed that iNOS was expressed by macrophage/microglia in the injured cortex. Findings demonstrate that the endogenous cannabinoid system and CB2R play an important role in regulating inflammation and neurovascular responses in the traumatically injured brain. CB2R stimulation with two agonists (0-1966 and JWH-133) dampened post-traumatic inflammation, while blockade or deletion of the CB2R worsened inflammation. Findings support previous evidence that modulating the CB2R alters infiltrating macrophages and activated resident microglia. Further investigation into the role of the CB2R on specific immune cell populations in the injured brain is warranted.