Downregulation of class II transactivator (CIITA) expression by synthetic cannabinoid CP55,940

Celine Gongora, Stacey Hose, Terrence P. O'Brien, Debasish Sinha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Cannabinoid receptors are known to be expressed in microglia; however, their involvement in specific aspects of microglial immune function has not been demonstrated. Many effects of cannabinoids are mediated by two G-protein coupled receptors, designated CB1 and CB2. We have shown that the CB1 receptor is expressed in microglia that also express MHC class II antigen (J. Neuroimmunol. 82 (1998) 13-21). In our present study, we have analyzed the effect of cannabinoid agonist CP55,940 on MHC class II expression on the surface of IFN-γ induced microglial cells by flow cytometry. CP55,940 blocked the class II MHC expression induced by IFN-γ. It has been shown that the regulation of class II MHC genes occurs primarily at the transcriptional level, and a non-DNA binding protein, class II transactivator (CIITA), has been shown to be the master activator for class II transcription. We find that mRNA levels of CIITA are increased in IFN-γ induced EOC 20 microglial cells and that this increase is almost entirely eliminated by the cannabinoid agonist CP55,940. These data suggests that cannabinoids affect MHC class II expression through actions on CIITA at the transcriptional level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalImmunology Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 30 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • CB1 cannabinoid receptor
  • CIITA class II MHC
  • CP55,940

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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