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Respir Res. 2005 Jun 3;6:51.

Chlamydophila pneumoniae induces expression of toll-like receptor 4 and release of TNF-alpha and MIP-2 via an NF-kappaB pathway in rat type II pneumocytes.

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Clinic for Neonatology, Campus Charité Mitte, Schumannstr, 20-21, D-10098 Berlin, Germany.



The role of alveolar type II cells in the regulation of innate and adaptive immunity is unclear. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) have been implicated in host defense. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether Chlamydophila pneumoniae (I) alters the expression of TLR2 and/orTLR4 in type II cells in a (II) Rho-GTPase- and (III) NF-kappaB-dependent pathway, subsequently (IV) leading to the production of (IV) pro-inflammatory TNF-alpha and MIP-2.


Isolated rat type II pneumocytes were incubated with C. pneumoniae after pre-treatment with calcium chelator BAPTA-AM, inhibitors of NF-kappaB (parthenolide, SN50) or with a specific inhibitor of the Rho-GTPase (mevastatin). TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA expressions were analyzed by PCR. Activation of TLR4, Rac1, RhoA protein and NF-kappaB was determined by Western blotting and confocal laser scan microscopy (CLSM) and TNF-alpha and MIP-2 release by ELISA.


Type II cells constitutively expressed TLR4 and TLR2 mRNA. A prominent induction of TLR4 but not TLR2 mRNA was detected after 2 hours of incubation with C. pneumoniae. The TLR4 protein expression reached a peak at 30 min, began to decrease within 1-2 hours and peaked again at 3 hours. Incubation of cells with heat-inactivated bacteria (56 degrees C for 30 min) significantly reduced the TLR4 expression. Treated bacteria with polymyxin B (2 mug/ml) did not alter TLR4 expression. C. pneumoniae-induced NF-kappaB activity was blocked by TLR4 blocking antibodies. TLR4 mRNA and protein expression were inhibited in the presence of BAPTA-AM, SN50 or parthenolide. TNF-alpha and MIP-2 release was increased in type II cells in response to C. pneumoniae, whereas BAPTA-AM, SN50 or parthenolide decreased the C. pneumoniae-induced TNF-alpha and MIP-2 release. Mevastatin inhibited C. pneumoniae-mediated Rac1, RhoA and TLR4 expression.


The TLR4 protein expression in rat type II cells is likely to be mediated by a heat-sensitive C. pneumoniae protein that induces a fast Ca2+-mediated NF-kappaB activity, necessary for maintenance of TLR4 expression and TNF-alpha and MIP-2 release through possibly Rac and Rho protein-dependent mechanism. These results indicate that type II pneumocytes play an important role in the innate pulmonary immune system and in inflammatory response mechanism of the alveolus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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