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Infect Immun. 2012 Jul;80(7):2509-18. doi: 10.1128/IAI.06179-11. Epub 2012 Apr 16.

Toll-like receptor- and filarial antigen-mediated, mitogen-activated protein kinase- and NF-κB-dependent regulation of angiogenic growth factors in filarial lymphatic pathology.

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  • 1National Institutes of Health-International Center for Excellence in Research, Chennai, India.


Filarial lymphatic pathology is of multifactorial origin, with inflammation, lymphangiogenesis, and innate immune responses all playing important roles. The role of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in the development of filarial pathology is well characterized. Similarly, the association of pathology with elevated levels of plasma angiogenic factors has also been documented. To examine the association between TLR function and the development of lymphangiogenesis in filarial infections, we examined TLR- and filarial antigen-induced expression and production of various angiogenic growth factors. We demonstrate that TLR ligands (specifically TLR2, -3, and -5 ligands) induce significantly increased expression/production of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of individuals with lymphatic pathology (CP individuals) compared to that in cells of asymptomatic infected (INF) individuals. Similarly, filarial antigens induce significantly enhanced production of VEGF-C in CP compared with INF individuals. TLR2-mediated enhancement of angiogenic growth factor production in CP individuals was shown to be dependent on mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and NF-κB signaling, as pharmacologic inhibition of either extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), p38 MAPK, or NF-κB signaling resulted in significantly diminished production of VEGF-A and Ang-1. Our data therefore strongly suggest an important association between TLR signaling and lymphangiogenesis in the development of pathology in human lymphatic filariasis.

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