Characterization and strong risk association of TLR2 del -196 to -174 polymorphism and Helicobacter pylori and their influence on mRNA expression in gastric cancer

World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2020 May 15;12(5):535-548. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v12.i5.535.


Background: Toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2) is responsible for recognizing Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) and activating the immune response. Polymorphisms in TLR2 may modulate gastric carcinogenesis.

Aim: To evaluate whether the TLR2 19216T/C (rs3804099) and TLR2 -196 to -174 ins/del (rs111200466) polymorphisms contribute to gastric carcinogenesis in the Brazilian population, and to determine the influence of both polymorphisms and H. pylori infection on TLR2 mRNA expression.

Methods: DNA was extracted from 854 peripheral blood leukocyte or gastric tissue samples [202 gastric cancer (GC), 269 chronic gastritis (CG), and 383 control/healthy (C)] and genotyped by allele-specific PCR or restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP)-PCR. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction by TaqMan® assay was used to quantify TLR2 mRNA levels in fresh gastric tissues (48 GC, 36 CG, and 14 C).

Results: Regarding the TLR2 -196 to -174 polymorphism, the ins/del and del/del genotypes were associated with a higher risk of GC by comparison with the C in all of the analyzed inheritance models (codominant, dominant, recessive, overdominant and log-additive; P < 0.0001). Similarly, an increased risk was observed when comparing the GC and CG groups [codominant (P < 0.0001), dominant (P < 0.0001), recessive (P = 0.0260), overdominant (P < 0.0001) and log-additive (P < 0.0001)]. In contrast, TLR2 19216T/C was associated with a protective effect in the GC group compared to the C group [dominant (P = 0.0420) and log-additive (P = 0.0300)]. Regarding the association of polymorphisms with H. pylori infection, individuals infected with H. pylori and harboring the TLR2 -196 to -174 ins/del polymorphism had an increased risk of gastric carcinogenesis [codominant (P = 0.0120), dominant (P = 0.0051), overdominant (P = 0.0240) and log-additive (P = 0.0030)], while TLR2 19216T/C was associated with a protective effect [codominant (P = 0.0039), dominant (P < 0.0001), overdominant (P = 0.0097) and log-additive (P = 0.0021)]. TLR2 mRNA levels were significantly increased in the GC group (median RQ = 6.95) compared to the CG group (RQ = 0.84, P < 0.0001) and to the normal mucosa group (RQ = 1.0). In addition, both H. pylori infection (P < 0.0001) and the presence of the polymorphic TLR2 -196 to -174del (P = 0.0010) and TLR2 19216 C (P = 0.0004) alleles influenced TLR2 mRNA expression.

Conclusion: The TLR2 -196 to -174 ins/del and TLR2 19216 T/C polymorphisms are strongly associated with GC. TLR2 mRNA expression levels are upregulated in neoplastic tissues and influenced by both the presence of H. pylori and variant genotypes.

Keywords: Chronic gastritis; Gastric cancer; Gene expression; Helicobacter pylori; Polymorphisms; Toll-like receptor 2.