Bacterial lipoprotein delays apoptosis in human neutrophils through inhibition of caspase-3 activity: regulatory roles for CD14 and TLR-2

J Immunol. 2004 Oct 15;173(8):5229-37. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.173.8.5229.


The human sepsis syndrome resulting from bacterial infection continues to account for a significant proportion of hospital mortality. Neutralizing strategies aimed at individual bacterial wall products (such as LPS) have enjoyed limited success in this arena. Bacterial lipoprotein (BLP) is a major constituent of the wall of diverse bacterial forms and profoundly influences cellular function in vivo and in vitro, and has been implicated in the etiology of human sepsis. Delayed polymorphonuclear cell (PMN) apoptosis is a characteristic feature of human sepsis arising from Gram-negative or Gram-positive bacterial infection. Bacterial wall product ligation and subsequent receptor-mediated events upstream of caspase inhibition in neutrophils remain incompletely understood. BLP has been shown to exert its cellular effects primarily through TLR-2, and it is now widely accepted that lateral associations with the TLRs represent the means by which CD14 communicates intracellular messages. In this study, we demonstrate that BLP inhibits neutrophil mitochondrial membrane depolarization with a subsequent reduction in caspase-3 processing, ultimately leading to a significant delay in PMN apoptosis. Pretreatment of PMNs with an anti-TLR-2 mAb or anti-CD14 mAb prevented BLP from delaying PMN apoptosis to such a marked degree. Combination blockade using both mAbs completely prevented the effects of BLP (in 1 and 10 ng/ml concentrations) on PMN apoptosis. At higher concentrations of BLP, the antiapoptotic effects were observed, but were not as pronounced. Our findings therefore provide the first evidence of a crucial role for both CD14 and TLR-2 in delayed PMN apoptosis arising from bacterial infection.

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects*
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Caspase 3
  • Caspase Inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors / physiology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology
  • Lipoproteins / pharmacology*
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • Neutrophils / drug effects*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / physiology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2
  • Toll-Like Receptors


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Caspase Inhibitors
  • Lipopolysaccharide Receptors
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Lipoproteins
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • TLR2 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2
  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • CASP3 protein, human
  • Caspase 3