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J Endocrinol. 2019 Feb 1;240(2):325-343. doi: 10.1530/JOE-18-0326.

Evidence of an anti-inflammatory toll-like receptor 9 (TLR 9) pathway in adipocytes.

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Department of Internal Medicine III, Giessen University Hospital, Giessen, Germany.
Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University of Giessen and Kerckhoff Clinic, Bad Nauheim, Germany.
Comprehensive Biomaterial Bank Marburg (CBBMR), Philipps-University of Marburg, Marburg, Germany.


Adipocytes express various pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and actively participate in anti-bacterial and anti-viral host defence. Obesity is associated with adipose tissue PRR expression. The potential role of Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) in adipocytes has not yet been investigated. Here, we evaluated TLR9 expression during adipocyte differentiation (AD) of 3T3-L1 adipocytes, in primary murine adipocytes and in different murine and human adipose tissue depots by real-time PCR, immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry. TLR9 expression was inhibited using specific siRNA-mediated knockdown, and TLR9 signaling was induced using specific class A, B and C agonistic CpG-oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) treatment vs ODN controls in 3T3-L1 adipocytes and in primary murine adipocytes from Tlr9wt/wt vs Tlr9-/- mice. We found that TLR9 gene expression is induced during AD and that TLR9 protein is expressed in murine gonadal and human visceral adipocytes. AD depends on intact TLR9 expression. Tlr9-/- mice demonstrate significantly reduced adiponectin serum levels, while siRNA-mediated TLR9 knockdown led to reduced adiponectin mRNA expression in adipocytes. TLR9 ligands (CpG-ODNs) inhibit pro-inflammatory resistin secretion in mature 3T3-L1 adipocytes. Tlr9-/- as compared to Tlr9wt/wt adipocytes exhibit increased resistin and MCP1 secretion and reduced adiponectin secretion into cell culture supernatants, while TLR9 ligands (ODNs) show differential effects in Tlr9-/- vs Tlr9wt/wt primary murine adipocytes. TLR9 expression is significantly increased in visceral compared to subcutaneous adipose tissue depots in non-diabetic obese patients and correlates with systemic resistin levels in a compartment-specific manner. Thus, adipocytic TLR9 is a putative, new protective factor during (obesity-associated) adipose tissue inflammation.


CpG; TLR9; adipocyte; adipokine; adipose tissue; inflammation; pattern recognition receptor

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