Klebsiella pneumoniae increases the levels of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4 in human airway epithelial cells

Verónica Regueiro, David Moranta, Miguel A Campos, Javier Margareto, Junkal Garmendia, José A Bengoechea

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63 Citations (Scopus)


Airway epithelial cells act as the first barrier against pathogens. These cells recognize conserved structural motifs expressed by microbial pathogens via Toll-like receptors (TLRs) expressed on the surface. In contrast to the level of expression in lymphoid cells, the level of expression of TLR2 and TLR4 in airway epithelial cells is low under physiological conditions. Here we explored whether Klebsiella pneumoniae upregulates the expression of TLRs in human airway epithelial cells. We found that the expression of TLR2 and TLR4 by A549 cells and human primary airway cells was upregulated upon infection with K. pneumoniae. The increased expression of TLRs resulted in enhancement of the cellular response upon stimulation with Pam3CSK4 and lipopolysaccharide, which are TLR2 and TLR4 agonists, respectively. Klebsiella-dependent upregulation of TLR expression occurred via a positive IkappaBalpha-dependent NF-kappaBeta pathway and via negative p38 and p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase-dependent pathways. We showed that Klebsiella-induced TLR2 and TLR4 upregulation was dependent on TLR activation. An isogenic capsule polysaccharide (CPS) mutant did not increase TLR2 and TLR4 expression. Purified CPS upregulated TLR2 and TLR4 expression, and polymyxin B did not abrogate CPS-induced TLR upregulation. Although no proteins were detected in the CPS preparation by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and colloidal gold staining, we could not rule out the possibility that traces of protein in our CPS preparation could have been responsible, at least in part, for the TLR upregulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-24
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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