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J Immunol. 2006 May 15;176(10):5856-62.

TLR4 signaling attenuates ongoing allergic inflammation.

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  • 1Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


The relationship between LPS exposure and allergic asthma is poorly understood. Epidemiologic studies in humans have found that exposure to LPS can protect, have no effect, or exacerbate allergic asthma. Similarly, LPS has had variable effects on allergic pulmonary inflammation in the mouse, depending on the model used. In the present study, we studied the effect of very low doses of LPS in models of both short-term and long-term allergen challenge. When challenged with allergen for short periods, wild-type and tlr4-deficient mice had similar responses. However, when challenged for periods of 1 wk or longer, tlr4-deficient mice developed dramatically increased airway eosinophils, serum IgE, and Th2 cytokines compared with similarly challenged, genetically matched C57BL/6 mice. The relative attenuation of allergic responses seen in C57BL/6 mice was dependent on bone marrow-derived cell-specific expression of tlr4, and was not associated with an increase in Th1 responses. The number of dendritic cells in lungs of challenged tlr4-deficient mice was significantly increased compared with those in challenged C57BL/6 mice. No differences were seen in the abilities of naive C57BL/6 and tlr4-deficient mice to develop allergen-specific tolerance after exposure to similar preparations of OVA, suggesting that tolerance and regulation of existing inflammation develop through different mechanisms. The attenuation of eosinophilic inflammation in C57BL/6 mice was abolished when these mice were challenged with OVA supplemented with additional LPS. Together, these findings show that low doses of endotoxin can have regulatory effects on allergic inflammation, particularly in the setting of ongoing allergen exposure.

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