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J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018 Oct 1;24(4):628-642. doi: 10.5056/jnm18130.

Expression of Toll-like Receptors, Pro-, and Anti-inflammatory Cytokines in Relation to Gut Microbiota in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: The Evidence for Its Micro-organic Basis.

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Departments of Microbiology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India.
Departments of Gastroenterology, Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, India.



A Subset of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may have mild inflammation due to immune activation. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and cytokines may cause intestinal inflammation. We studied their expression in relation to gut microbiota.


Expression of TLRs and cytokines was assessed in 47 IBS patients (Rome III) and 25 controls using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. Immunohistochemistry was further performed to confirm the expression of TLR-4 and TLR-5.


Of 47 patients with IBS, 20 had constipation (IBS-C), 20 diarrhea (IBS-D), and 7 unclassified (IBS-U). The mRNA levels of TLR-4 and TLR-5 were up-regulated in IBS patients than controls (P = 0.013 and P < 0.001, respectively). Expression of TLR-4 and TLR-5 at protein level was 4.2-folds and 6.6-folds higher in IBS-D than controls. The mRNA levels of IL-6 (P = 0.003), C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 11 (CXCL-11) (P < 0.001) and C-X-C motif chemokine receptor 3 (CXCR-3) (P < 0.001) were higher among IBS patients than controls. Expression of IL-6 (P = 0.002), CXCL-11 (P < 0.001), and CXCR-3 (P < 0.001) were up-regulated and IL-10 (P = 0.012) was down-regulated in IBS-D patients than controls. Positive correlation was seen between TLR-4 and IL-6 (P = 0.043), CXCR-3, and CXCL-11 (P = 0.047), and IL-6 and CXCR-3 (P = 0.003). Stool frequency per week showed positive correlation with mRNA levels of TLR-4 (P = 0.016) and CXCR-3 (P = 0.005), but inversely correlated with IL-10 (P = 0.002). Copy number of Lactobacillus (P = 0.045) and Bifidobacterium (P = 0.011) showed correlation with IL-10 in IBS-C, while Gram-positive (P = 0.031) and Gram-negative bacteria (P = 0.010) showed correlation with CXCL-11 in IBS-D patients.


Altered immune activation in response to dysbiotic microbiota may promote intestinal inflammation in a subset of patients with IBS.


Cytokines; Immunohistochemistry; Lipopolysaccharide; Peptidoglycan; Toll-like receptors

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