The endocannabinoid system represents a potential therapeutic target in sepsis due to the presence of cannabinoid receptors (CB2) on immune cells. In this review we discuss how various targets within the endocannabinoid system can be manipulated to treat the immune consequences of sepsis. One of the targets outlined are the endocannabinoid receptors and modulation of their activity through pharmacological agonists and antagonists. Another therapeutic target covered in this review is the modulation of the endocannabinoid degradative enzyme’s activity. Modulation of degradative enzyme activity can change the levels of endogenous cannabinoids thereby altering immune activity. Overall, activation of the CB2 receptors causes immunosuppression and can be beneficial during the hyperactivated immune state of sepsis, while suppression of the CB2 receptors may be beneficial during a hypoimmune septic state.
Key words: sepsis, endocannabinoid system, inflammation, immune modulation