Developmental role of macrophage cannabinoid-1 receptor signaling in type 2 diabetes

Tony Jourdan, Gergo Szanda, Resat Cinar, Grzegorz Godlewski, David J. Holovac, Joshua K. Park, Sarah Nicoloro, Yuefei Shen, Jie Liu, Avi Z. Rosenberg, Ziyi Liu, Michael P. Czech, George Kunos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Islet inflammation promotes β-cell loss and type 2 diabetes (T2D), a process replicated in Zucker Diabetic Fatty (ZDF) rats in which β-cell loss has been linked to cannabinoid-1 receptor (CB1R)-induced proinflammatory signaling in macrophages infiltrating pancreatic islets. Here, we analyzed CB1R signaling in macrophages and its developmental role in T2D. ZDF rats with global deletion of CB1R are protected from β-cell loss, hyperglycemia, and nephropathy that are present in ZDF littermates. Adoptive transfer of CB1R-/- bone marrow to ZDF rats also prevents β-cell loss and hyperglycemia but not nephropathy. ZDF islets contain elevated levels of CB1R, interleukin-1b, tumor necrosis factor-A, the chemokine CCL2, and interferon regulatory factor-5 (IRF5), a marker of inflammatory macrophage polarization. In primary cultured rodent and human macrophages, CB1R activation increased Irf5 expression, whereas knockdown of Irf5 blunted CB1R-induced secretion of inflammatory cytokines without affecting CCL2 expression, which was p38MAPKa dependent. Macrophage-specific in vivo knockdown of Irf5 protected ZDF rats from β-cell loss and hyperglycemia. Thus, IRF5 is a crucial downstream mediator of diabetogenic CB1R signaling in macrophages and a potential therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)994-1007
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


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