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J Immunol. 2001 Jan 15;166(2):1148-55.

Bacterial invasion augments epithelial cytokine responses to Escherichia coli through a lipopolysaccharide-dependent mechanism.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Department of Pathology and Immunology, and Department of Internal Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


One mechanism of initiating innate host defenses against uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) is the production of cytokines by bladder epithelial cells; however, the means by which these cells recognize bacterial pathogens is poorly understood. Type 1 pili, expressed by the majority of UPEC, have been shown to have a critical role in inducing the expression of IL-6 in bladder epithelial cells after exposure to E. coli. In this study, we demonstrate that type 1 pili are not sufficient to activate IL-6 production by bladder epithelial cells. Instead, it was shown that bacterial invasion mediated by type 1 pili augments bladder epithelial responses to E. coli via an LPS-dependent mechanism, leading to the production of IL-6. RNA transcripts for the LPSR Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) was detected in cultured bladder epithelial cells. The in vivo role of TLR4 was assessed using C3H/HeJ mice, which express a dominant negative form of TLR4. After infection with UPEC, C3H/HeJ mice have large foci of intracellular bacteria that persist within the bladder epithelium in the absence of any notable inflammatory response. These results indicate that LPS is required for bacterial invasion to enhance host responses to E. coli within the bladder.

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