Oxidative stress produced in response to infection or sterile injury activates the innate immune response. We found that extracellular vesicles (EVs) isolated from the plasma of patients with rheumatoid arthritis or secreted from cells subjected to oxidative stress contained oxidized phospholipids that stimulated cells expressing Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in a manner dependent on its co-receptor MD-2. EVs from healthy subjects or reconstituted synthetic EVs subjected to limited oxidation gained the ability to stimulate TLR4-expressing cells, whereas prolonged oxidation abrogated this property. Furthermore, we found that 15-lipoxygenase generated hydro(pero)xylated phospholipids that stimulated TLR4-expressing cells. Molecular modeling suggested that the mechanism of activation of TLR4 by oxidized phospholipids in EVs was structurally similar to that of the TLR4 ligand lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This was supported by experiments showing that EV-mediated stimulation of cells required MD-2, that mutations that block LPS binding to TLR4 abrogated the stimulatory effect of EVs, and that EVs induced TLR4 dimerization. On the other hand, analysis of gene expression profiles showed that genes encoding factors that resolve inflammation were more abundantly expressed in responses to EVs than in response to LPS. Together, these data suggest that EVs act as an oxidative stress-induced endogenous danger signal that underlies the pervasive role of TLR4 in inflammatory diseases.
Copyright © 2015, American Association for the Advancement of Science.