Background: The response to lipopolysaccharide exposure is highly variable and might be a result of genetic diversity between individuals. The toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4) is the principal receptor for lipopolysacharide.
Objectives: We investigated the association between single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the TLR4 locus and levels of systemic inflammatory markers in response to lipopolysaccharide.
Methods: Healthy subjects (n = 116) were genotyped for the most frequent polymorphisms found in the promoter and coding region of the TLR4 gene (-2026A/T, -1607T/C, +896A/G, and +1196C/T relative to the translation start site). Subjects were challenged with 20 microg lipopolysaccharide by inhalation.
Results: Polymorphisms at +896 and +1196 were in complete linkage disequilibrium, and no homozygotes for the less common allele, G and T respectively, were found. After lipopolysaccharide inhalation, subjects heterozygous for either TLR-4/+896 or TLR4/+1196 had significantly lower numbers of white blood cell counts and lower levels of C-reactive protein and lipopolysaccharide-binding protein compared with homozygotes with the common allele. None of the heterozygous subjects (n = 18) except 1 were high responders to lipopolysaccharide (defined as a rise in C-reactive protein > 10 mg/L), whereas 36 of 98 homozygous subjects were high responders (P <.02). No association was observed between the TLR-4/-2026 and TLR-4/-1607 polymorphisms and lipopolysaccharide responsiveness.
Conclusion: The single-nucleotide polymorphisms at position +896 or +1196 in the TLR-4 gene is associated with systemic inflammatory hyporesponsiveness to inhaled lipopolysaccharide.