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J Biol Chem. 2014 Jan 24;289(4):2457-68. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.521161. Epub 2013 Dec 4.

Lipopolysaccharide activates Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4)-mediated NF-κB signaling pathway and proinflammatory response in human pericytes.

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From the Molecular Immunology Unit, Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro Majadahonda, 28222 Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.


Pericytes and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are ontogenically related, and in fact, no significant phenotypic differences could be observed by flow cytometry. Transcriptome analysis of human pericytes and MSCs revealed that 43 genes were up-regulated more than 10-fold in pericytes compared with MSCs. Identification of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) as one of the most abundant RNA species in pericytes with respect to MSCs and confirmation of TLR4 expression on the cell surface led us to obtain a comprehensive overview of the expression program of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated pericytes. Transcriptional profiling of LPS-treated cells revealed that 22 genes were up-regulated more than 5-fold. Of them, 10 genes encoded chemokines and cytokines (CXCL10, CCL20, IL8, CXCL1, IL6, CCL2, IL1B, CXCL2, IL1A, and CXCL6), and three genes encoded adhesion molecules (ICAM1, VCAM1, and SELE). LPS induced nuclear translocation of the transcription factor NF-κB in stimulated pericytes. Moreover, inhibition of NF-κB activation by SC-514 blocked LPS-induced up-regulation of a subset of chemokine genes, confirming the key role of NF-κB in LPS signaling in pericytes. At the protein level, we assessed the secretion of the proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines IL-6, IL-8, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL3, and CCL2 not only after LPS treatment but also in HMGB1-stimulated pericytes. Up-regulation of the adhesion molecules ICAM-1 and VCAM-1 resulted in an increased adhesion of peripheral blood leukocytes to an LPS-treated pericyte monolayer. The role of pericytes in the inflammatory context has been scarcely addressed; according to these results, pericytes should be considered as active players in the inflammatory cascade with potential physiopathological implications.


Angiogenesis; Chemokines; Cytokine; HMGB1; Inflammation; Lipopolysaccharide (LPS); NF-κB; Pericyte; TLR4

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