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Clin Exp Immunol. 2011 Nov;166(2):251-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2011.04457.x.

Glucose activation of islets of Langerhans up-regulates Toll-like receptor 5: possible mechanism of protection.

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The Bartholin Institute, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Toll-like receptors are pattern-recognition receptors of the innate immune system that are activated during viral, bacterial or other infections, as well as during disease progression of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Toll-like receptor 5 (TLR-5) specifically recognizes bacterial infection through binding of flagellin from pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and Listeria species. We have found that the expression of TLR5 is up-regulated by glucose activation of isolated islets of Langerhans, in contrast to other investigated TLRs (TLR-2, -3, -4, -6 and -9. Stimulation of islets with 10 mm glucose increased the levels of TLR5 mRNA 10-fold (P=0·03) and the TLR-5 protein levels twofold (P=0·04). Furthermore, the protein level of downstream signalling molecule myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88) increased 1·6-fold (P=0·01). Activation of TLR-5 in islets lead to a marked reduction of both stimulated and basal secretion of insulin, as well as an increase in production of nitric oxide, proinflammatory cytokines, anti-inflammatory heat-shock protein and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I transporter. We observe no effects of TLR-5 activation on islet survival. We suggest that this regulation by TLR-5 might be beneficial during serious infection such as sepsis by limiting the activity of beta cells during peaks of insulin demand to counteract beta cell damage.

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