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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2003 Mar;10(2):259-66.

Lipoteichoic acids from Lactobacillus strains elicit strong tumor necrosis factor alpha-inducing activities in macrophages through Toll-like receptor 2.

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Laboratory of Host Defense and Germfree Life, Research Institute for Disease Mechanism and Control, Nagoya University School of Medicine, 65 Tsurumai-cho, Showa-ku, Nagoya 466-8550, Japan.


Lactobacilli are nonpathogenic gram-positive inhabitants of microflora. At least some Lactobacillus strains have been postulated to have health beneficial effects, such as the stimulation of the immune system. Here we examined the stimulatory effects of lactobacilli on mouse immune cells. All six heat-killed Lactobacillus strains examined induced the secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) from mouse splenic mononuclear cells, albeit to various degrees. When fractionated subcellular fractions of Lactobacillus casei were tested for NF-kappaB activation and TNF-alpha production in RAW264.7, a mouse macrophage cell line, the activity was found to be as follows: protoplast > cell wall >> polysaccharide-peptidoglycan complex. Both crude extracts and purified lipoteichoic acids (LTAs) from two Lactobacillus strains, L. casei and L. fermentum, significantly induced TNF-alpha secretion from RAW264.7 cells and splenocytes of C57BL/6, C3H/HeN, and C3H/HeJ mice but not from splenocytes of C57BL/6 TLR2(-/-) mice. Lactobacillus LTA induced activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase activation in RAW264.7 cells. Furthermore, in HEK293T cells transected with a combination of CD14 and Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), NF-kappaB was activated in response to Lactobacillus LTA. Taken together, these data suggest that LTAs from lactobacilli elicit proinflammatory activities through TLR2.

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