The cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) is a receptor mainly expressed in immune cells and believed to be immunosuppressive in infective or inflammatory models. However, its role in sepsis has not been fully elucidated. In this study, we delineate the function and mechanism of CB2 in the cecal ligation and puncture–induced septic model in mice. The activation of CB2 signaling with HU308 led to decreased survival rates and more severe lung injury in septic mice, and lower IL-10 levels in peritoneal lavage fluid were observed in the CB2 agonist group. The mice with conditional knockout of CB2-encoding gene CNR2 in CD4+ T cells (CD4 Cre CNR2fl/fl) improved survival, enhanced IL-10 production, and ameliorated pulmonary damage in the sepsis model after CB2 activation. In addition, double-knockout of the CNR2 gene (Lyz2 Cre CD4 Cre CNR2fl/fl) decreased the susceptibility to sepsis compared with Lyz2 Cre CNR2fl/fl mice. Mechanistically, the blockade of IL-10 with the anti–IL-10 Ab abolished its protection in CD4 Cre CNR2fl/fl mice. In accordance with the animal study, in vitro results revealed that the lack of CNR2 in CD4+ cells elevated IL-10 production, and CB2 activation inhibited CD4+ T cell–derived IL-10 production. Furthermore, in the clinical environment, septic patients expressed enhanced CB2 mRNA levels compared with healthy donors in PBMCs, and their CB2 expression was inversely correlated with IL-10. These results suggested that the activation of CD4+ T cell–derived CB2 increased susceptibility to sepsis through inhibiting IL-10 production.

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