Editors' ChoiceImmunology

Allergy-Blocking Transmitters

Science's STKE  12 Jun 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 390, pp. tw209
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3902007tw209

The endocannabinoid system performs various regulatory functions and has been implicated in a growing number of physiological roles, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs. Karsak et al. now find that this influence extends to regulation of allergic response. Mice lacking the two known cannabinoid receptors showed a strong tendency toward developing cutaneous contact sensitivity in response to distinct allergens. Blocking the receptors with antagonists had a similar effect, whereas absence of the gene encoding an enzyme responsible for breaking down cannabinoids increased resistance of mice to contact sensitivity. The regulation of the endocannabinoids or their receptors might be useful in treating allergies, although their role in the wider context of human allergy needs to be explored.

M. Karsak, E. Gaffal, R. Date, L. Wang-Eckhardt, J. Rehnelt, S. Petrosino, K. Starowicz, R. Steuder, E. Schlicker, B. Cravatt, R. Mechoulam, R. Buettner, S. Werner, V. Di Marzo, T. Tüting, A. Zimmer, Attenuation of allergic contact dermatitis through the endocannabinoid system. Science 316, 1494-1497 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]