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J Heart Lung Transplant. 2004 Feb;23(2):228-35.

Increased toll-like receptor 4 in the myocardium of patients requiring left ventricular assist devices.

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Heart Science Centre, Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital, Harefield, Middlesex, United Kingdom.



Cytokine activation in the myocardium of deteriorating patients with heart failure who undergo left ventricular assist-device (LVAD) implantation has been documented, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. We hypothesized the innate immune system is activated with expression of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), leading to cytokine activation in these patients.


We used quantitative real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction to measure TLR4, interleukin-1 (IL-1) receptor, IL-1 beta, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) mRNA expression in myocardial samples from 36 patients. We compared 18 patients who underwent LVAD implantation with 18 patients with less severe heart failure who underwent elective heart transplantation.


Toll-like receptor 4 expression was 1.69-fold greater (p < 0.05) and IL-1 receptor expression was 3.64-fold greater (p < 0.0001) in the deteriorating patients who required LVADs. Myocardial TNF-alpha (1.71-fold, p < 0.05), IL-6 (2.57-fold, p < 0.005), and IL-1 beta (9.78-fold, p < 0.001) also were increased in the LVAD candidates. Toll-like receptor 4 expression correlated strongly with IL-1 receptor expression (r= 0.75, p < 0.0001) and with IL-1 beta expression in individual patients (r = 0.7, p < 0.0001). Interleukin-1 receptor expression also correlated with IL-1 beta expression (r = 0.78, p < 0.0001) within patients. We found no correlation between TLR4 and either TNF-alpha or IL-6 expression.


Patients who required LVAD support showed evidence of innate immune system activation, indicated by an increase in the key effector molecule TLR4 associated with a specific pattern of cytokine expression in the myocardium.

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