Marijuana May Help Organ Transplant Patients by Delaying Rejection


Marijuana might bring about a revolution in the field of organ transplantation by delaying the rejection of incompatible organ. Pictured, a budtender displays various types of marijuana available to customers. David McNew/Getty Images

As the battle against the legalization of medical marijuana continues, a number of reasons have been put forward that actually explains the medical benefits associated with pot. Adding to the list of benefits, a latest study suggests that, Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, an active ingredient found in marijuana, can help delay rejection of incompatible organs in transplantation patients.

A team of researchers from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine found that THC successfully delayed the organ rejection in a group of mice. For the study, the researchers took two groups of genetically different mice. Skin graft from one group of mice was grafted on to another and vice versa.

While the first group was treated with placebo, the second group was exposed to THC. What researchers observed was strange and surprising at the same time.

"We are excited to demonstrate for the first time that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in the prolongation of rejection of a foreign graft by suppressing immune response in the recipient, said study co-author Mitzi Nagarkatti. "This opens up a new area of research that would lead to better approaches to prevent transplant rejection as well as to treat other inflammatory diseases."

Even though the study results seem promising, the researchers are not sure about the molecular pathways involved in the mechanism by which the delay in organ rejection takes place. The researchers further say that a lot of research is being carried out to identify the benefits of each and every ingredient contained in marijuana, however, the most fascinating challenge is to identify the molecular pathways involved.

In addition, the researchers have warned people not to use marijuana as a therapy without consulting a physician. Marijuana usage for medical purposes is subject to the federal, local and state laws.

The complete details of the study have been published in the September 2015 issue of The Journal of Leukocyte Biology.