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J Immunol. 2005 Nov 15;175(10):6893-9.

Involvement of TLR4/type I IL-1 receptor signaling in the induction of inflammatory mediators and cell death induced by ethanol in cultured astrocytes.

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  • 1Unidad de Patología Celular, Centro de Investigación Príncipe Felipe, Valencia, Spain.


Activated astroglial cells are implicated in neuropathogenesis of many infectious and inflammatory diseases of the brain. A number of inflammatory mediators and cytokines have been proposed to play a key role in glial cell-related brain damage. Cytokine production seems to be initiated by signaling through TLR4/type I IL-1R (IL-1RI) in response to their ligands, LPS and IL-1beta, playing vital roles in innate host defense against infections, inflammation, injury, and stress. We have shown that glial cells are stimulated by ethanol, up-regulating cytokines and inflammatory mediators associated with TLR4 and IL-1RI signaling pathways in brain, suggesting that ethanol may contribute to brain damage via inflammation. We explore the possibility that ethanol, in the absence of LPS or IL-1beta, triggers signaling pathways and inflammatory mediators through TLR4 and/or IL-1RI activation in astrocytes. We show in this study that ethanol, at physiologically relevant concentrations, is capable of inducing rapid phosphorylation within 10 min of IL-1R-associated kinase, ERK1/2, stress-activated protein kinase/JNK, and p38 MAPK in astrocytes. Then an activation of NF-kappaB and AP-1 occurs after 30 min of ethanol treatment along with an up-regulation of inducible NO synthase and cyclooxygenase-2 expression. Finally, we note an increase in cell death after 3 h of treatment. Furthermore, by using either anti-TLR4- or anti-IL-1RI-neutralizing Abs, before and during ethanol treatment, we inhibit ethanol-induced signaling events, including NF-kappaB and AP-1 activation, inducible NO synthase, and cyclooxygenase-2 up-regulation and astrocyte death. In summary, these findings indicate that both TLR4 and IL-1RI activation occur upon ethanol treatment, and suggest that signaling through these receptors mediates ethanol-induced inflammatory events in astrocytes and brain.

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