Introduction: Toll-like receptors (TLRs) mediate signaling that triggers activation of the innate immune system, whereas heme oxygenase (HO)-1 (an inducible heme-degrading enzyme that is induced by various stresses) suppresses inflammatory responses. We investigated the interaction between TLR and HO-1 in an inflammatory disorder, namely Behçet's disease.
Methods: Thirty-three patients with Behçet's disease and 30 healthy control individuals were included in the study. Expression levels of HO-1, TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA were semiquantitatively analyzed using a real-time PCR technique, and HO-1 protein level was determined by immunoblotting in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. In some experiments, cells were stimulated with lipopolysaccharide or heat shock protein-60; these proteins are known to be ligands for TLR2 and 4.
Results: Levels of expression of HO-1 mRNA were significantly reduced in PBMCs from patients with active Behçet's disease, whereas those of TLR4, but not TLR2, were increased in PBMCs, regardless of disease activity. Moreover, HO-1 expression in PBMCs from patients with Behçet's disease was repressed in the presence of either lipopolysaccharide or heat shock protein-60.
Conclusion: The results suggest that upregulated TLR4 is associated with HO-1 reduction in PBMCs from patients with Behçet's disease, leading to augmented inflammatory responses.