Stachybotrys chartarum-induced hypersensitivity pneumonitis is TLR9 dependent

Am J Pathol. 2011 Dec;179(6):2779-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2011.08.019. Epub 2011 Oct 5.


Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP), an inflammatory lung disease, develops after repeated exposure to inhaled particulate antigen and is characterized by a vigorous T helper type 1-mediated immune response, resulting in the release of IL-12 and interferon (IFN)-γ. These T helper type 1 cytokines may participate in the pathogenesis of HP. Stachybotrys chartarum (SC) is a dimorphic fungus implicated in a number of respiratory illnesses, including HP. Here, we have developed a murine model of SC-induced HP that reproduces pathology observed in human HP and hypothesized that toll receptor-like 9 (TLR9)-mediated dendritic cell responses are required for the generation of granulomatous inflammation induced by inhaled SC. Mice sensitized and challenged with 10(6) SC spores develop granulomatous inflammation with multinucleate giant cells, accompanied by increased accumulation of neutrophils and CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. SC sensitization and challenge resulted in robust pulmonary expression of tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-12, and IFN-γ. SC-mediated granulomatous inflammation required IFN-γ and was TLR9 dependent, because TLR9(-/-) mice displayed reduced peribronchial inflammation, decreased accumulation and/or activation of polymorphonuclear (PMN) and CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells, and reduced lung expression of type 1 cytokines and chemokines. T-cell production of IFN-γ was IL-12 dependent. Our studies suggest that TLR9 is critical for dendritic cell-mediated development of a type 1 granulomatous inflammation in the lung in response to SC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / immunology
  • Alveolitis, Extrinsic Allergic / microbiology*
  • Animals
  • Chemokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Granuloma, Respiratory Tract / immunology
  • Immunization / methods
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-12 / biosynthesis
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / immunology*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stachybotrys / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9 / immunology*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma