Quick hit: CB2 Protects Against Fibrosis

Some recent highlights and curiosities from the amazing world of cannabis science and therapeutics.
By Adrian Devitt-Lee On February 11, 2019
Illustration of human lungs

Smoking cigarettes is well known to cause lung damage, but this is not only due to smoke. Nicotine in whatever form – even nicotine replacement therapies like a patch – causes lung inflammation and fibrosis by activating acetylcholine receptors. Polish scientists recently examined how the endocannabinoid system fits into the picture. Activating the CB2 receptor ameliorated nicotine-induced fibrosis, while blocking the receptor exacerbated the problem. Fibrosis involves the accumulation of a protein called collagen between cells. This ultimately impairs the absorption of oxygen in the lungs. CB2 activation slowed the differentiation or migration of a major collagen-releasing immune cell (the myofibroblast) to the lungs. This is one of many studies indicating that CB2 agonists – in some cases – will reduce fibrosis. The endocannabinoid system is bidirectional, however. Sometimes cannabinoids can worsen fibrosis, particularly CB1 agonists in the kidneys and liver.

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Adrian Devitt-Lee, Project CBD's chief science writer, is employed as a research chemist by the University College of London.