Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the primary compounds found in the cannabis plant, may prevent the rejection of organs during a transplant, according to a study published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.
“We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient,” says Mitzi Nagarkatti, Ph.D., a researcher from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. “This opens up a new area of research that would lead to better approaches to prevent transplant rejection as well as to treat other inflammatory diseases.”
For the study, researchers used a placebo, and THC, on rats that underwent skin transplant surgery. It was found that “THC treatment significantly reduced T cell proliferation and activation in draining LNs of the recipient mice and decreased early stage rejection-indicator cytokines, including IL-2 and IFN-γ.” It was also found that THC treatment “increased the allogeneic skin graft survival”.
The study concludes; “Together, our research shows, for the first time to our knowledge, that targeting cannabinoid receptors may provide a novel treatment modality to attenuate HvGD and prevent allograft rejection.”