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Circulating endocannabinoids during hematopoietic stem cell transplantation: A pilot study. Neurobiol Stress 2015;2:44-50



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OBJECTIVE: Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HCT) is a stressful and rigorous medical procedure involving significant emotional and immune challenges. The endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling system is involved in regulation of both the immune system and emotional reactivity, yet little is known about its function during HCT. We investigated the role of the eCB signaling system in a group of HCT recipients.

METHODS: A total of 19 HCT recipients were enrolled and provided psychosocial data and blood samples at three peri-transplant time points: prior to transplant, hospital discharge, and approximately 100 days post-transplant. Psychosocial factors, inflammatory molecules, and the eCBs were determined and assessed for changes over this period and association with each other.

RESULTS: HCT recipients demonstrated significant changes over the peri- transplant period in inflammatory molecules and psychosocial functioning, but not in circulating concentrations of the eCBs. Associations among these variables were most likely to be present pre-transplant and least likely to be present immediately post-transplant, with depressive symptoms and inflammation most significantly associated. The eCB 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) was significantly, positively associated with both interleukin (IL)-6 and C-reactive protein (CRP) and negatively associated with depressive symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: The eCB signaling system may have alternative sources and regulatory mechanisms in addition to the immune system. Given the significant associations with inflammatory molecules and depressive symptoms in the peri- transplant period, it is important to better understand this system and its potential implications in the setting of complex and stressful medical procedures such as HCT.

Author List

Knight JM, Szabo A, Zhao S, Lyness JM, Sahler OJ, Liesveld JL, Sander T, Rizzo JD, Hillard CJ, Moynihan JA


Cecilia J. Hillard PhD Associate Dean, Center Director, Professor in the Pharmacology and Toxicology department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Jennifer M. Knight MD Associate Professor in the Psychiatry department at Medical College of Wisconsin
J. Douglas D. Rizzo MD, MS Director, Center Associate Director, Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Aniko Szabo PhD Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin

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