Cannabidiol Increases Inflammatory Suppressor Cells, New MS Mouse Study Shows

Cannabidiol Increases Inflammatory Suppressor Cells, New MS Mouse Study Shows

Non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), one of the active compounds in medical cannabis, significantly reduced clinical signs of multiple sclerosis (MS)-like disease in an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis mouse model. Researchers found that CBD promoted the increase of inflammatory-suppressor cells called myeloid-derived suppressor cells.

The findings were reported in the study “Cannabidiol Attenuates Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Model of Multiple Sclerosis Through Induction of Myeloid-Derived Suppressor Cells,” published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.

Medical cannabis contains more than 100 pharmacologically active compounds (called cannabinoids),  which have been shown to exert potent anti-inflammatory effects and to be potential therapies for a number of autoimmune diseases, including MS.

In MS, evidence supports the potential of CBD, one of the most studied cannabinoids, along with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), to modulate spasticity, as well seizures, inflammation, pain, anxiety, and other conditions. The fact that CBD does not have the psychoactive properties (the so-called “high”) that accompany THC, makes it a more attractive therapeutic.

Moreover, CBD has been reported to have neuroprotective effects, halting brain inflammation. However, the mechanisms through which CBD suppresses neuroinflammation in MS remain unknown.

Now, researchers at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine used the MS mouse model, called experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model, to evaluate the effects of treatment with CBD on neuroinflammation.

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The team focused on a group of cells called the myeloid-derived suppressor cells. These cells suppress inflammation and are thought to play a critical role in suppressing neuroinflammation in MS.

From the moment EAE mice began developing clinical signs of MS (day nine after EAE’s induction), researchers gave them daily doses of CBD, administered intraperitoneally (into the abdomen) at a dose of 20 mg/kg. Treatment continued until the end of the study (day 25).

Treatment with CBD delayed the onset of disease and significantly reduced clinical signs of EAE as compared to control mice (no CBD treatment). The treatment also reduced the infiltration of immune cells into the animal’s central nervous system (spinal cord and brain).

Moreover, CBD decreased the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines (signaling molecules), like interleukin (IL)-17 and interferon (IFN)-gamma, while promoting the production of those with anti-inflammatory properties, namely IL-10.

Researchers went on to investigate whether CBD’s effects in EAE also was linked to an increased production of myeloid-derived suppressor cells.

They analyzed the abdominal region of the mice (the location of CBD administration) and saw a massive influx of myeloid-derived suppressor cells at both day 10 and 12 compared to control animals. Eventually, the cells declined by day 16.

In the spinal cord and brain of CBD-treated mice, however, the number of myeloid-derived suppressor cells was lower than those in control animals.

In vitro experiments showed that the myeloid-derived suppressor cells inhibited the proliferation of T-cells, the immune cells carrying the attack against myelin in MS.

In a final experiment, researchers showed that injecting purified CBD-induced myeloid-derived suppressor cells into EAE mice slowed disease progression, shown by a significant reduction in clinical scores and T-cell infiltrates into the central nervous system.

Overall, the results suggest myeloid-derived suppressor cells play “a crucial role in CBD-mediated attenuation of EAE,” researchers wrote, and that “CBD may constitute an excellent candidate for the treatment of MS and other autoimmune diseases,” they concluded.


  1. Chris says:

    Since I started using MJ, the number of times I get sick is way less frequent. Before it, I would get sick extremely easily. I felt like “bubble boy” from Seinfeld. I have found that a combination of CBD, as well as THC and hybrid strains that contain both alleviating my MS symptoms as well. Based on that, I decided to use Tecfidera for my MS. A immunomodulator medication. My assumption is that my body is overreacting to illnesses and causing my flare-ups.

    Knowing that stress plays a key factor in flare-ups as well, MJ, as well as other methods, provide a way for the body to deal with it. MJ has definitely helped me with that, for a fact. While Tecfidera protects nerves from oxidative stress and helps with inflammation.

    While taking Tecfidera, I had/have side effects of that medication. The primary being skin irritation that also included a burning sensation. Skin inflammation. My mind went directly to say, hey let me try topical MJ. It almost immediately takes the skin irritation away. I started applying topically before taking the medication.

    The secondary symptom of Tecfidera was digestive. I used an MJ sublingual lozenge, as I knew that it helped me with digestive issues. That symptom cleared up almost immediately as well.

    I periodically get back pains, which I know are a symptom of my MS. Even while on Tecfidera. I have found that hybrid CBD/THC strains help with that, as well as with getting a good nights rest.

    I sharing my experience of what I have been using MJ for and is in no way me promoting it here. If you do decide to, do your honest research first. I am also not a doctor and the advice and statements I make are purely my own as a medical marijuana patient with relapsing-remitting MS. I am a student of science, so I try and take an unbiased and fact-based approach to everything I do. This is just one of the many things I have applied to my personal regiment with RRMS.

  2. I’ve just started using CBD and I feel that it does make a big difference in how I feel but it’s not as though you feel a high but rather you just don’t have as much pain and you have a sense of well-being and it seems to calm the nerve signals down to where they are not as strong. I feel like I have a type of control by using CBD and for me, that’s half the battle! 😁

  3. Jenny says:

    This article says the daily dose given to the mice in the experiment daily was 20mg.
    Doesn’t 20mg (all at once) for a mouse sound like a huge dosage.
    I just bought some CBD/THC gummies that have 12.751mg per serving.
    If the mice got 20mg a day, what dosage would be the equivalent for a human?
    Do I have it wrong?

    • Joanna says:

      It states that they gave a dose of 20 mg per kilogram. So if a mouse is 100 grams that would be 2 mg per dose

      • Amanda says:

        So a human adult would need a dose of 1200-1800 mg? Seems like they were testing an extreme dose when compared to Jenny’s 12 mg gummies; having to chew through 100 per day. Still interesting.

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