Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Smoking Pot Alters More Than Mood — Human Immune System Affected, USF/UCLA Study Finds

Date:
August 28, 2002
Source:
University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center
Summary:
Marijuana may alter immune function in people -- but the jury is still out on whether it hurts or helps the body's ability to fight infection or other diseases, report researchers at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and the UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles.

Tampa, FL (Aug. 27 2002) -- Marijuana may alter immune function in people -- but the jury is still out on whether it hurts or helps the body's ability to fight infection or other diseases, report researchers at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and the UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles. "The bottom line is you cannot routinely smoke marijuana without it affecting your immune system," said Thomas Klein, PhD, professor of medical microbiology and immunology at USF. "However, because of the complexity of the immune system, we can't say yet whether the effect we've observed in humans is good or bad."

Related Articles


A study by USF and UCLA is the first to show that healthy humans who smoke marijuana appear to alter the expression of marijuana receptors, or molecules, on immune cells in their blood. The findings were reported in the June issue of the Journal of Neuroimmunology.

Pot's influence on the immune system continues to be hotly debated. While more human studies are needed, overwhelming evidence from animal studies indicates that marijuana and its psychoactive compounds, known as cannabinoids, suppress immune function and inflammation.

"This suggests marijuana or cannabinoids might benefit someone with chronic inflammatory disease, but not someone who has a chronic infectious disease such as HIV infection," said Dr. Klein, lead investigator of the study.

The USF/UCLA group is one of few in the world conducting studies to define the role of cannabinoid receptors in regulating immunity in both drug abusers and nonusers.

If the results in animals hold true in humans, their work might lead to the development of safe and effective cannabinoid drugs for certain diseases, Dr. Klein said. "If the cannabinoids in marijuana are effective immune suppressors, this property might be harnessed to treat patients with overly aggressive immune responses or inflammatory diseases like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis."

Receptors that react to delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the compound in marijuana that produces a high, have been found in tissues throughout the body and in the brain. A naturally circulating THC-like substance called anandamide also binds to and activates these marijuana, or cannabinoid, receptors, indicating that the body's own cannabinoid system plays a physiological role in normal immunity as well as defining moods, Dr. Klein said.

In the USF/UCLA study, researchers analyzed blood samples from 56 healthy volunteers -- including 10 chronic marijuana smokers, ages 22 to 46, participating in lung and immune function studies at UCLA. The marijuana smokers denied use of any other drugs, and the nonsmokers denied all illegal drug use. Because no accurate way yet exists to directly study the expression of cannabinoid receptors on immune cells, the researchers looked at the genetic material (messenger RNA) that is the direct predecessor, or precursor, of the receptor.

They found that the baseline genetic expression of precursor RNA was consistent across all age, gender and ethnic groups. But, the peripheral blood cells from the marijuana users expressed significantly higher levels of cannabinoid receptor messenger RNA than blood cells from non-users. The levels increased regardless of the amount of marijuana use, although all users in the study had a history of smoking pot several times or more a week.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. "Smoking Pot Alters More Than Mood — Human Immune System Affected, USF/UCLA Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 August 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020828062229.htm>.
University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. (2002, August 28). Smoking Pot Alters More Than Mood — Human Immune System Affected, USF/UCLA Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020828062229.htm
University Of South Florida Health Sciences Center. "Smoking Pot Alters More Than Mood — Human Immune System Affected, USF/UCLA Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/08/020828062229.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Melafind: Spotting Melanoma Without a Biopsy

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The MelaFind device is a pain-free way to check suspicious moles for melanoma, without the need for a biopsy. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Battling Multiple Myeloma

Battling Multiple Myeloma

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) The answer isn’t always found in new drugs – repurposing an ‘old’ drug that could mean better multiple myeloma treatment, and hope. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Chronic Inflammation and Prostate Cancer

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) New information that is linking chronic inflammation in the prostate and prostate cancer, which may help doctors and patients prevent cancer in the future. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Sickle Cell: Stopping Kids’ Silent Strokes

Ivanhoe (Oct. 31, 2014) Blood transfusions are proving crucial to young sickle cell patients by helping prevent strokes, even when there is no outward sign of brain injury. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins