Activation of type-2 cannabinoid receptor inhibits neuroprotective and antiinflammatory actions of glucocorticoid receptor α: When one is better than two

Elisa Bisicchia, Valerio Chiurchiù, Maria Teresa Viscomi, Laura Latini, Filomena Fezza, Luca Battistini, Mauro Maccarrone, Marco Molinari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Endocannabinoids (eCBs) and glucocorticoids (GCs) are two distinct classes of signaling lipids that exert both neuroprotective and immunosuppressive effects; however, the possibility of an actual interaction of their receptors [i.e., type-2 cannabinoid (CB2) and glucocorticoid receptor α (GRα), respectively] remains unexplored. Here, we demonstrate that the concomitant activation of CB2 and GRα abolishes the neuroprotective effects induced by each receptor on central neurons and on glial cells in animal models of remote cell death. We also show that the ability of eCBs and GCs, used individually, to inhibit tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interferon-γ (IFN-γ) production from activated human T lymphocytes is lost when CB2 and GRα are activated simultaneously. In addition, signal transduction pathways triggered by concomitant activation of both receptors led to increased levels of GRβ, heat-shock proteins-70 and -90, and p-JNK, as well as to reduced levels of p-STAT6. These effects were reversed only by selectively antagonizing CB 2, but not GRα. Overall, our study demonstrates for the first time the existence of a CB2-driven negative cross-talk between eCB and GC signaling in both rats and humans, thus paving the way to the possible therapeutic exploitation of CB2 as a new target for chronic inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2191-2204
Number of pages14
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013



  • Glucocorticoid receptors
  • Inflammation
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Type-2 cannabinoid receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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