Microglia, innate immune cells of the CNS, sense infection and damage through overlapping receptor sets. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 recognizes bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and multiple injury-associated factors. We show that its co-receptor CD14 serves three non-redundant functions in microglia. First, it confers an up to 100-fold higher LPS sensitivity compared to peripheral macrophages to enable efficient proinflammatory cytokine induction. Second, CD14 prevents excessive responses to massive LPS challenges via an interferon β-mediated feedback. Third, CD14 is mandatory for microglial reactions to tissue damage-associated signals. In mice, these functions are essential for balanced CNS responses to bacterial infection, traumatic and ischemic injuries, since CD14 deficiency causes either hypo- or hyperinflammation, insufficient or exaggerated immune cell recruitment or worsened stroke outcomes. While CD14 orchestrates functions of TLR4 and related immune receptors, it is itself regulated by TLR and non-TLR systems to thereby fine-tune microglial damage-sensing capacity upon infectious and non-infectious CNS challenges.
Keywords: Toll-like receptor; chemokines; cytokines; damage; inflammation; monocytes; neutrophils.
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.