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Kidney Int. 2006 Jul;70(2):358-62. Epub 2006 May 31.

Reduced expression of Toll-like receptor 4 contributes to impaired cytokine response of monocytes in uremic patients.

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Department of Nephrology, Tokyo Metropolitan Komagome Hospital, Bunkyo-Ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a pivotal role in pathogen recognition and subsequent cytokine synthesis by immune cells. Uremic patients have a high infectious morbidity, but it remains unclear if this arises from the defective innate immune responses related to TLRs. We studied TLR4 expression in monocytes and their intracellular cytokine synthesis in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation in 35 predialysis patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) with or without predisposition to bacterial infections and 16 age-matched controls. Expression of TLR4 in unstimulated peripheral monocytes was determined by staining with anti-TLR4 antibody and analysis with flow cytometry. Monocytes were then stimulated by LPS, labeled with anti-CD14 antibody, and subjected to intracellular cytokine staining and flow cytometry. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6, and IL-8 synthesis was examined in CD14(+) monocytes. TLR4 expression was constitutively diminished in CKD patients with reduced expression being more severe in those CKD patients who were predisposed to infections. Monocytes from these infection prone CKD patients exhibited significantly reduced synthesis of TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6, and IL-8 in response to LPS challenge compared with those from control subjects. The intensity of synthesis of each cytokine significantly correlated with TLR4 expression levels in monocytes (P<0.01). The capacity of monocytes to synthesize proinflammatory cytokines was significantly reduced in infection prone CKD patients, and this may possibly be due to the reduced monocyte expression of TLR4. Abnormal TLR4 expression by monocytes may play a role in the susceptibility of such patients to bacterial infections.

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