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Eur J Immunol. 2002 Apr;32(4):1188-95.

Non-LPS components of Chlamydia pneumoniae stimulate cytokine production through Toll-like receptor 2-dependent pathways.

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Department of Medicine, University Medical Center St. Radboud, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Recent studies suggest that infection with Chlamydia pneumoniae is associated with atherosclerosis, and that cytokines play an important role in the initiation and progression of Chlamydia-induced inflammation. When freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were stimulated for 24 h with sonicated C. pneumoniae, significant amounts of the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1beta and of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 were released into the supernatant. The addition of serum increased cytokine release induced by C. pneumonia two- to fivefold (p < 0.01). This effect was not due to complement, mannose-binding lectin (MBL) or lipopolysaccharide-binding protein (LBP). Incubation of PBMC with either anti-Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) or anti-CD14 blocking antibodies did not influence the production of cytokines induced by Chlamydia. The induction of cytokines by C. pneumoniae in macrophages from C3H / HeJ mice, known to have a defective TLR4, was identical to that measured in control macrophages from C3H / HeN mice. In contrast, incubation of PBMC with an anti-TLR2 blocking antibody significantly inhibited the production of TNF by 67 % and of IL-1beta by 72 %. In conclusion, C. pneumoniae stimulates cytokine production in a serum-dependent manner, but independently of complement, MBL and LBP. C. pneumoniae induces the pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF and IL-1beta through TLR2, but not TLR4 and CD14.

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