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J Leukoc Biol. 2005 Dec;78(6):1255-64. Epub 2005 Oct 4.

Toll-like receptor 2 mediates inflammatory cytokine induction but not sensitization for liver injury by Propioni- bacterium acnes.

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Liver Center, Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, LRB 215, 364 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605-2324, USA.


Recognition of Gram-positive bacteria by Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) induces activation of proinflammatory pathways. In mice, sensitization with the Gram-positive Propionibacterium acnes followed by a challenge with the TLR4 ligand, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), results in fulminant hepatic failure. Here, we investigated the role of TLR2 in liver sensitization to LPS-induced injury. Stimulation of Chinese hamster ovary cells and peritoneal macrophages with heat-killed P. acnes required expression of TLR2 but not of TLR4, suggesting that P. acnes was a TLR2 ligand. Cell activation by P. acnes was myeloid differentiation primary-response protein 88 (MyD88)-dependent, and it was augmented by coexpression of CD14 in mouse peritoneal macrophages. In vitro, P. acnes behaved as a TLR2 ligand and induced TLR4 hetero- and TLR2 homotolerance in peritoneal macrophages. In vivo priming of wild-type mice with P. acnes, but not with the selective TLR2 ligands peptidoglycan and lipotheicoic acid, resulted in hepatocyte necrosis, hyperelevated serum levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL)-6, interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), and IL-12 (p40/p70), and increased RNA expression of proinflammatory cytokines (IL-12p40, IL-1alpha, IL-6, IL-1beta, IL-18, IFN-gamma) in the liver after a LPS challenge. Furthermore, P. acnes priming sensitized TLR2-deficient (TLR2-/-) but not MyD88-/- mice to LPS-induced injury, evidenced by hepatocyte necrosis, increased levels of serum TNF-alpha, IFN-gamma, IL-6, and liver proinflammatory cytokine mRNA expression. IFN-gamma, a cytokine sensitizing to endotoxin, was induced by P. acnes in splenocytes of TLR2-/- and TLR9-/- but not MyD88-/- mice. These results suggest that although P. acnes triggers TLR2-mediated cell activation, TLR2-independent but MyD88-dependent mechanisms mediate in vivo sensitization by P. acnes for LPS-induced liver injury.

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