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J Immunol. 2003 Oct 15;171(8):3977-82.

Expression and function of Toll-like receptors in eosinophils: activation by Toll-like receptor 7 ligand.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


We investigated the expression of a panel of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and their functions in human eosinophils. Eosinophils constitutively expressed TLR1, TLR4, TLR7, TLR9, and TLR10 mRNAs (TLR4 greater than TLR1, TLR7, TLR9, and TLR10 greater than TLR6). In contrast, neutrophils expressed a larger variety of TLR mRNAs (TLR1, TLR2, TLR4, TLR6, TLR8 greater than TLR5, TLR9, and TLR10 greater than TLR7). Although the expression levels in eosinophils were generally less prominent compared with those in neutrophils, eosinophils expressed a higher level of TLR7. Furthermore, among various TLR ligands (S-(2,3-bis(palmitoyloxy)-(2-RS)-propyl)-N-palmitoyl-Cys-Ser-(Lys)(4), poly(I:C), LPS, R-848, and CpG DNA), only R-848, a ligand of TLR7 and TLR8, regulated adhesion molecule (CD11b and L-selectin) expression, prolonged survival, and induced superoxide generation in eosinophils. Stimulation of eosinophils by R-848 led to p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activation, and SB203580, a p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitor, almost completely attenuated R-848-induced superoxide generation. Although TLR8 mRNA expression was hardly detectable in freshly isolated eosinophils, mRNA expression of TLR8 as well as TLR7 was exclusively up-regulated by IFN-gamma but not by either IL-4 or IL-5. The up-regulation of the TLRs by IFN-gamma had potentially functional significance: the extent of R-848-induced modulation of adhesion molecule expression was significantly greater in cells treated with IFN-gamma compared with untreated cells. Although the natural ligands for TLR7 and TLR8 have not yet been identified, our results suggest that eosinophil TLR7/8 systems represent a potentially important mechanism of a host-defensive role against viral infection and mechanism linking exacerbation of allergic inflammation and viral infection.

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