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J Clin Invest 2003 Apr;111(8):1231-40
Croxford JL, Miller SD.
Department of Microbiology-Immunology and the Interdepartmental Immunobiology Center, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Theiler murine encephalomyelitis virus-induced demyelinating disease (TMEV-IDD) is a mouse model of chronic-progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) characterized by Th1-mediated CNS demyelination and spastic hindlimb paralysis.
Existing MS therapies reduce relapse rates in 30% of relapsing-remitting MS patients, but are ineffective in chronic-progressive disease, and their effects on disability progression are unclear.
Experimental studies demonstrate cannabinoids are useful for symptomatic treatment of spasticity and tremor in chronic-relapsing experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.
Cannabinoids, however, have reported immunosuppressive properties.
We show that the cannabinoid receptor agonist, R(+)WIN55,212, ameliorates progression of clinical disease symptoms in mice with preexisting TMEV-IDD.
Amelioration of clinical disease is associated with downregulation of both virus and myelin epitope-specific Th1 effector functions (delayed-type hypersensitivity and IFN-gamma production) and the inhibition of CNS mRNA expression coding for the proinflammatory cytokines, TNF-alpha, IL1-beta, and IL-6.
Clinical trials investigating the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for the symptomatic treatment of MS are ongoing, and this study demonstrates that they may also have potent immunoregulatory properties.