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Circulation. 2001 Dec 18;104(25):3103-8.

Toll-like receptor-4 is expressed by macrophages in murine and human lipid-rich atherosclerotic plaques and upregulated by oxidized LDL.

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1
Atherosclerosis Research Center, Burns and Allen Research Institute, Division of Cardiology, Steven Spielberg Pediatric Research Center, Los Angeles, California, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Inflammation is implicated in atherogenesis and plaque disruption. Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR-2) and TLR-4, a human homologue of drosophila Toll, play an important role in the innate and inflammatory signaling responses to microbial agents. To investigate a potential role of these receptors in atherosclerosis, we assessed the expression of TLR-2 and TLR-4 in murine and human atherosclerotic plaques.

METHODS AND RESULTS:

Aortic root lesions of high-fat diet-fed apoE-deficient mice (n=5) and human coronary atherosclerotic plaques (n=9) obtained at autopsy were examined for TLR-4 and TLR-2 expression by immunohistochemistry. Aortic atherosclerotic lesions in all apoE-deficient mice expressed TLR-4, whereas aortic tissue obtained from control C57BL/6J mice showed no TLR-4 expression. All 5 lipid-rich human plaques expressed TRL-4, whereas the 4 fibrous plaques and 4 normal human arteries showed no or minimal expression. Serial sections and double immunostaining showed TLR-4 colocalizing with macrophages both in murine atherosclerotic lesions and at the shoulder region of human coronary artery plaques. In contrast to TLR-4, none of the plaques expressed TLR-2. Furthermore, basal TLR-4 mRNA expression by human monocyte-derived macrophages was upregulated by ox-LDL in vitro.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our study demonstrates that TLR-4 is preferentially expressed by macrophages in murine and human lipid-rich atherosclerotic lesions, where it may play a role to enhance and sustain the innate immune and inflammatory responses. Moreover, upregulation of TLR-4 in macrophages by oxidized LDL suggests that TLR-4 may provide a potential pathophysiological link between lipids and infection/inflammation and atherosclerosis.

PMID:
11748108
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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