The cannabinoid receptor type 2 Q63R variant increases the risk of celiac disease: implication for a novel molecular biomarker and future therapeutic intervention.

“Celiac disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the small bowel that occurs with the ingestion of gluten, found in several grains products. Although HLA-DQ2 variant is required for the gluten-derived peptide gliadin presentation by antigen-presenting cells to T-cells, non-HLA genetic factors account for the majority of heritable risk. Several genome-wide association studies have identified susceptibility loci for CD on chromosome 1. Cells of the immune system express the cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2), a plasma-membrane receptor activated by both endogenous and exogenouscannabinoids. Consistent data evidence that CB2 is linked to a variety of immune functional events and that, in the course of an inflammatory process, an increased number of receptors becomes available for activation. The cannabinoid receptor type 2 gene (CNR2; GeneID1269) maps on 1p36.11. In order to investigate the possible involvement of CB2 in CD establishment, immunohistochemistry toward CB2 receptor and CD4+ cells in small bowel biopsies from celiac children and association analysis, through TaqMan assay, of a CNR2 common missense variant, rs35761398 (CAA/CGG), resulting in the aminoacidic substitution of Glutamine at codon 63 with Arginine (Q63R), in a cohort of 327 South Italian children have been performed. We observed in this study that CB2 is up-regulated in CD small bowel biopsies and CNR2 rs35761398 is significantly associated with CD (χ(2) = 37.064; d.f. 1; p = 1.14 × 10(-9)). Our findings suggest a role of CB2 in CD. The Q63R variant, increasing more than six-fold the risk for CD susceptibility, might eventually represent a novel molecular biomarker for CD risk stratification. Indeed, we provide here further evidence that CB2 receptor plays a critical role in autoimmunity susceptibility and indicates that it represents a molecular target to pharmacologically modulate the immune components in CD.”

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