Activation of epidermal toll-like receptor 2 enhances tight junction function: implications for atopic dermatitis and skin barrier repair.J Invest Dermatol 2013; 133(4):988-98JI
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by epidermal tight junction (TJ) defects and a propensity for Staphylococcus aureus skin infections. S. aureus is sensed by many pattern recognition receptors, including Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2). We hypothesized that an effective innate immune response will include skin barrier repair, and that this response is impaired in AD subjects. S. aureus-derived peptidoglycan (PGN) and synthetic TLR2 agonists enhanced TJ barrier and increased expression of TJ proteins, claudin-1 (CLDN1), claudin-23 (CLDN23), occludin, and Zonulae occludens 1 (ZO-1) in primary human keratinocytes. A TLR2 agonist enhanced skin barrier recovery in human epidermis wounded by tape stripping. Tlr2(-/-) mice had a delayed and incomplete barrier recovery following tape stripping. AD subjects had reduced epidermal TLR2 expression as compared with nonatopic subjects, which inversely correlated (r=-0.654, P=0.0004) with transepidermal water loss (TEWL). These observations indicate that TLR2 activation enhances skin barrier in murine and human skin and is an important part of a wound repair response. Reduced epidermal TLR2 expression observed in AD patients may have a role in their incompetent skin barrier.