The Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis could be a potential aide in organ transplants a study has shown. The study by the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, published online before print, June 1, 2015 indicates that the THC suppresses the rejection of a transplanted organ. Organ rejection is a major issue when a transplant is made as your body’s immune system will naturally attack or reject a foreign entity. Around 25% of people who receive kidney transplants and 40% of people who receive heart transplants experience a rejection within the first year of the procedure.
The study conducted by researchers from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine successfully delayed organ rejection in a group of mice through the use of the cannabis compound THC. There were two sets of mice used in the study, each set having a different genetic make up to the other. Each set of mice had skin grafted to them from the genetically opposite mice as rejection would be more likely.
One group of mice were given THC treatment and the other were given placebo, there were definitive results from the THC group.
The study’s co-author Mitz Nagarkatti had this to say “We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient” and on the future of the discoveries he added “This opens up a new area of research that would lead to better approaches to prevent transplant rejection as well as to treat other inflammatory diseases.”
“More and more research is identifying potential beneficial effects of substances contained in marijuana, but a major challenge has been identifying the molecular pathways involved,” said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “These new studies point to important roles for the cannabinoid receptors as targets that might be exploited using approaches that refine how we think about substances derived from marijuana.”
The full details of the study can be found in the September 2015 issue of The Journal of Leukocyte Biology