Aim: Hepatitis C virus often establishes chronic infections. Recent studies suggest that viral and bacterial infections are more common in HCV-infected patients compared to controls. Pathogens are recognized by Toll-like receptors (TLRs) to shape adaptive and innate immune responses.
Methods: In this study, to assess the ability of HCV-infected host to recognize invading pathogens, we investigated Toll-like receptor expression in innate (monocytes) and adaptive (T cells) immune cells by real-time PCR.
Results: We determined that RNA levels for TLRs 2, 6. 7, 8, 9 and 10 mRNA levels were upregulated in both monocytes and T cells in HCV-infected patients compared to controls. TLR4 was only upregulated in T lymphocytes, while TLR5 was selectively increased in monocytes of HCV-infected patients. MD-2, a TLR4 co-receptor, was increased in patients' monocytes and T cells while CD14 and MyD88 were increased only in monocytes.
Conclusion: Our data reveal novel details on TLR expression that likely relates to innate recognition of pathogens and immune defense in HCV-infected individuals.