Several studies have found that cannabinoids, via the endocannabinoid system, help mitigate gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation in disorders like Crohn’s disease. However, a new study published online in Cell has found that the endocannabinoid system may play a crucial role in fighting GI infections, too.
Researchers from the University of Texas, Southwest (UTSW), relied on a rodent model to test if the endocannabinoid system was involved in fighting pathogenic GI infections. Specifically, the researchers, led by Vanessa Sperandio, Ph.D, genetically altered some of the mice so that they produced a global overabundance of 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG), one of the body’s primary endocannabinoids that shows agonistic activity at cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, as well as at receptors that are believed to be closely tied to the endocannabinoid system (i.e. GPR55 and TPRV1). The researchers then infected the genetically altered mice and control mice with bacterial strains that cause enteric inflammation and diarrhea(Salmonella typhimurium, Citrobacter rodentium, and Escherichia coli).
The altered mice were found to not only develop less severe symptoms when compared with controls, but also to recover from the infections at a quicker pace. The team believes that the overabundance of 2-AG served to block a bacterial receptor known as QseC. As QseC receptors are found in other parts of the body, it is possible that a similar strategy may potentially work to block other types of infections.
“By harnessing the power of natural compounds produced in the body and in plants,” Sperandio said, “we may eventually treat infections in a whole new way.”
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