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Diabetologia. 2014 Aug;57(8):1645-54. doi: 10.1007/s00125-014-3249-1. Epub 2014 May 12.

TLR2/6 and TLR4-activated macrophages contribute to islet inflammation and impair beta cell insulin gene expression via IL-1 and IL-6.

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Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, The University of British Columbia, Child and Family Research Institute, 950 W 28th Ave, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V5Z 4H4.



Inflammation contributes to pancreatic beta cell dysfunction in type 2 diabetes. Toll-like receptor (TLR)-2 and -4 ligands are increased systemically in recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients, and TLR2- and TLR4-deficient mice are protected from the metabolic consequences of a high-fat diet. Here we investigated the role of macrophages in TLR2/6- and TLR4-mediated effects on islet inflammation and beta cell function.


Genetic and pharmacological approaches were used to determine the effects of TLR2/6 and TLR4 ligands on mouse islets, human islets and purified rat beta cells. Islet macrophages were depleted and sorted by flow cytometry and the effects of TLR2/6- and TLR4-activated bone-marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) on beta cell function were assessed.


Macrophages contributed to TLR2/6- and TLR4-induced islet Il1a/IL1A and Il1b/IL1B mRNA expression in mouse and human islets and IL-1β secretion from human islets. TLR2/6 and TLR4 ligands also reduced insulin gene expression; however, this occurred in a non-beta cell autonomous manner. TLR2/6- and TLR4-activated BMDMs reduced beta cell insulin secretion partly via reducing Ins1, Ins2, and Pdx1 mRNA expression. Antagonism of the IL-1 receptor and neutralisation of IL-6 completely reversed the effects of activated macrophages on beta cell gene expression.


We conclude that islet macrophages are major contributors to islet IL-1β secretion in response to TLR2/6 and TLR4 ligands. BMDMs stimulated with TLR2/6 and TLR4 ligands reduce insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells, partly via IL-1β- and IL-6-mediated decreased insulin gene expression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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