Figure: Anti-inflammatory effect of CBD after intranasal Poly(I:C) treatment. (A, B) Flow cytometry analysis showed that intranasal administration of Poly(I:C) effectuated lymphopenia and increased IL-6 production. These effects were reversed with intraperitoneal administration of CBD, resulting in marked higher number of T cells (**p<0.01) and lower IL-6 level (*p<0.05) in the blood compared with Poly(I:C) with no CBD treatment group. (C, D) CBD treatment attenuated neutrophil and macrophage infiltration into the lung tissue after treatment with Poly(I:C), demonstrated by flow cytometry analysis. In addition, CBD reduced the level of inflammatory cytokines (e.g., interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interferon gamma) (*p<0.05), suggesting a potential for controlling the cytokine storm in COVID-19 patients.

Khodadadi H, Salles ÉL, Jarrahi A, Chibane F, Costigliola V, Yu JC, Vaibhav K, Hess DC, Dhandapani KM, Baban B (2020) Cannabidiol modulates cytokine storm in acute respiratory distress syndrome induced by simulated viral infection using synthetic RNA, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 5:3, 197–201, DOI: 10.1089/can.2020.0043.

Introduction: In the absence of effective antivirals and vaccination, the pandemic of COVID-19 remains the most significant challenge to our health care system in decades. There is an urgent need for definitive therapeutic intervention. Clinical reports indicate that the cytokine storm associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is the leading cause of mortality in severe cases of some respiratory viral infections, including COVID-19. In recent years, cannabinoids have been investigated extensively due to their potential effects on the human body. Among all cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory effects in a variety of pathological conditions. Therefore, it is logical to explore whether CBD can reduce the cytokine storm and treat ARDS.

Materials and Methods: In this study, we show that intranasal application of Poly(I:C), a synthetic analogue of viral double-stranded RNA, simulated symptoms of severe viral infections inducing signs of ARDS and cytokine storm.

Discussion: The administration of CBD downregulated the level of proinflammatory cytokines and ameliorated the clinical symptoms of Poly I:C-induced ARDS.

Conclusion: Our results suggest a potential protective role for CBD during ARDS that may extend CBD as part of the treatment of COVID-19 by reducing the cytokine storm, protecting pulmonary tissues, and re-establishing inflammatory homeostasis.

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