Objective: Individuals with type 2 diabetes have a myriad of metabolic aberrations including increased inflammation, increasing their cardiovascular risk. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and their ligands play a key role in insulin resistance and atherosclerosis. However, there is a paucity of data examining the expression and activity of TLRs in type 2 diabetes. Thus, in the present study, we examined TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA and protein expression, their ligands, and signaling in monocytes of recently diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients.
Research design and methods: TLR mRNA, protein expression, TLR ligands, and TLR signaling were measured in freshly isolated monocytes from healthy human control subjects (n = 23) and type 2 diabetic subjects (n = 23) using real-time RT-PCR, Western blot, and flow cytometric assays.
Results: Type 2 diabetic subjects had significantly increased TLR2, TLR4 mRNA, and protein in monocytes compared with control subjects (P < 0.05). Increased TLR2 and TLR4 expression correlated with BMI, homeostasis model assessment-insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), glucose, A1C, N(epsilon)-(carboxymethyl) lysine (CML), and free fatty acid (FFA). Ligands of TLR2 and TLR4, namely, HSP60, HSP70, HMGB1, endotoxin, and hyaluronan levels, were elevated in type 2 diabetic subjects and positively correlated with TLR2 and TLR4. Type 2 diabetic subjects showed increased MyD88, phosphorylated IRAK-1, Trif, TICAM-1, IRF-3, and NF-kappaB p65 expression in monocytes compared with control subjects. Furthermore, TLR-MyD88-NF-kappaB signaling resulted in elevated levels of cytokines (P < 0.05), but increased interleukin (IL)-1beta, interferon (IFN)-gamma, and endotoxin were not significant when adjusted for BMI.
Conclusions: In this comprehensive study, we make the novel observation that TLR2 and TLR4 expression and their ligands, signaling, and functional activation are increased in recently diagnosed type 2 diabetes and contribute to the proinflammatory state.