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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 7;9(1):e83882. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083882. eCollection 2014.

TLR9 and RIG-I signaling in human endocervical epithelial cells modulates inflammatory responses of macrophages and dendritic cells in vitro.

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Division of Molecular Immunology and Microbiology (MIM), National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health (NIRRH), Indian Council of Medical Research, Mumbai, India.


The innate immune system has evolved to recognize invading pathogens through pattern recognition receptors (PRRs).Among PRRs, Toll like receptors (TLRs 3, 7/8,9) and RIG-I like receptors (RLRs) have been shown to recognize viral components. Mucosal immune responses to viral infections require coordinated actions from epithelial as well as immune cells. In this respect, endocervical epithelial cells (EEC's) play an important role in initiating innate immune responses via PRRs. It is unknown whether EEC's can alter immune responses of macrophages and dendritic cells (DC's) like its counterparts in intestinal and respiratory systems. In this study, we show that endocervical epithelial cells (End1/E6E7) express two key receptors, TLR9 and RIG-I involved in anti-viral immunity. Stimulation of End1/E6E7 cells lead to the activation of NF-κB and increased secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-6 and IL-8. Polarized End1/E6E7 cells responded to apical stimulation with ligands of TLR9 and RIG-I, CpG-ODN and Poly(I:C)LL respectively, without compromising End1/E6E7 cell integrity. At steady state, spent medium from End1/E6E7 cells significantly reduced secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines from LPS treated human primary monocyte derived macrophages (MDMs) and DC:T cell co-cultures. Spent medium from End1/E6E7 cells stimulated with ligands of TLR9/RIG-I restored secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as enhanced phagocytosis and chemotaxis of monocytic U937 cells. Spent medium from CpG-ODN and Poly(I:C)LL stimulated End1/E6E7 cells showed significant increased secretion of IL-12p70 from DC:T cell co-cultures. The anti-inflammatory effect of spent media of End1/E6E7 cell was observed to be TGF-β dependent. In summary, the results of our study indicate that EEC's play an indispensable role in modulating anti-viral immune responses at the female lower genital tract.

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