The endocannabinoid system in canine steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis and intraspinal spirocercosis

Jessica Freundt-Revilla*, Franciska Heinrich, Alexander Zoerner, Felix Gesell, Martin Beyerbach, Merav Shamir, Anna Oevermann, Wolfgang Baumgärtner, Andrea Tipold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Endocannabinoids (ECs) are involved in immunomodulation, neuroprotection and control of inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS). Activation of cannabinoid type 2 receptors (CB2) is known to diminish the release of pro-inflammatory factors and enhance the secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines. Furthermore, the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG) has been proved to induce the migration of eosinophils in a CB2 receptor-dependent manner in peripheral blood and activate neutrophils independent of CB activation in humans. The aim of the current study was to investigate the influence of the endocannabinoid system in two different CNS inflammatory diseases of the dog, i.e. Steroid-Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis (SRMA) and Intraspinal Spirocercosis (IS). The two main endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG, were quantified by mass spectrometry in CSF and serum samples of dogs affected with Steroid- Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis in the acute phase (SRMA A), SRMA under treatment with prednisolone (SRMA Tr), intraspinal Spirocercosis and healthy dogs. Moreover, expression of the CB2 receptor was evaluated in inflammatory lesions of SRMA and IS and compared to healthy controls using immunohistochemistry (IHC). Dogs with SRMA A showed significantly higher concentrations of total AG and AEA in serum in comparison to healthy controls and in CSF compared to SRMA Tr (p<0.05). Furthermore, dogs with IS displayed the highest ECs concentrations in CSF, being significantly higher than in CSF samples of dogs with SRMA A (p<0.05). CSF samples that demonstrated an eosinophilic pleocytosis had the highest levels of ECs, exceeding those with neutrophilic pleocytosis, suggesting that ECs have a major effect on migration of eosinophils in the CSF. Furthermore, CB2 receptor expression was found in glial cells in the spinal cord of healthy dogs, whereas in dogs with SRMA and IS, CB2 was strongly expressed not only in glial cells but also on the cellular surface of infiltrating leukocytes (i.e. neutrophils, eosinophils, lymphocytes, plasma cells, and macrophages) at lesion sites. The present study revealed an upregulated endocannabinoid system in dogs with inflammatory CNS diseases, highlighting the endocannabinoid system as a potential target for treatment of inflammatory CNS diseases.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0187197
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

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© 2018 Freundt-Revilla et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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