Diminished TLR2-TLR9 mediated CD4+ T cell responses are associated with increased inflammation in intraocular tuberculosis

Sci Rep. 2018 Sep 14;8(1):13812. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-32234-3.


Intraocular tuberculosis (IOTB) is amongst the leading causes of uveitis in tropical countries. Despite reports on involvement of proinflammatory cytokines, studies on innate immune responses in disease pathogenesis are lacking. Reports from animal models and patients with pulmonary tuberculosis indicate that defects in toll like receptor (TLR)2 and TLR9 signalling predispose them to tuberculosis. In this context, we investigated the role of TLR2, TLR4 and TLR9 in generation of CD4+ T effector (Teff) cell responses during IOTB. Firstly, the cells in vitreous fluids showed lower expression of TLR2 and TLR9 in IOTB as compared to non-uveitis and non-TB uveitis groups. Next, peripheral CD4+ Teff cells of subjects with IOTB showed decreased proliferative responses and lower induction of Tregs following TLR2 and TLR9 stimulation. Further, TLR9 ligation resulted in increased IFN-γ and IL-17a but decreased expression of IL-10 and TGF-β. Lastly, lower expression of genes involved in TLR9 signalling after direct TLR9 ligation was observed in IOTB. Collectively, our results show that a subdued response to direct TLR2 and TLR9 stimulation in CD4+ T cells is associated with increased proinflammatory responses in IOTB. These findings reveal an important link between innate immune signalling and ensuing adaptive immune responses in IOTB with implications in other forms of extrapulmonary tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Signal Transduction / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2 / immunology*
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4 / metabolism
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9 / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Ocular / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Ocular / pathology
  • Uveitis / immunology*
  • Uveitis / microbiology
  • Uveitis / pathology


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-17
  • TLR2 protein, human
  • TLR9 protein, human
  • Toll-Like Receptor 2
  • Toll-Like Receptor 4
  • Toll-Like Receptor 9