Accumulating evidence indicates that cells expressing Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play an important role in allergic diseases. The authors undertook this study to explore the hypothesis that TLR-mediated inflammatory signals are important from the perspective of asthma management.
The expressions of TLR1, TLR2, TLR3, TLR4, TLR6, and TLR9 and levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-8, and IFN-gamma) on the peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of 36 stable asthmatics on treatment (the on-treatment group), 15 asthmatics (the treatment-naïve group) before and after a 7-day course of oral prednisolone (30 mg/day), and on the PBMCs of 15 healthy controls were measured after in vitro stimulation using TLR-specific ligands.
In the on-treatment group, TLR1, TLR2, TLR6, and TLR9 expressions on PBMCs were significantly different between asthmatics and controls. And the expression of TLR4 on PBMCs and TNF-alpha production stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), were significantly higher in mild to moderate than in severe asthmatics. Interestingly, in the treatment-naïve group, short-term prednisolone significantly increased LPS-induced TNF-alpha and IFN-gamma productions by PBMCs.
TLR-mediated inflammatory signals contribute to the development and severity of asthma and are not reduced by glucocorticoid treatment, which suggests that a TLR-specific antagonist and glucocorticoid are required for the effective control of airway inflammation in asthmatics.