Deleterious Role of TLR3 during Hyperoxia-induced Acute Lung Injury

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Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) manifests clinically as a consequence of septic and/or traumatic injury in the lung. Oxygen therapy remains a major therapeutic intervention in ARDS, but this can contribute further to lung damage. Patients with ARDS are highly susceptible to viral infection and it may be due to altered Toll-like receptor (TLR) expression.


To evaluate the role of TLR3 in ARDS.


TLR3 expression and signaling was determined in airway epithelial cells after in vitro hyperoxia challenge. Using a murine model of hyperoxia-induced lung injury, the role of TLR3 was determined using either TLR3-gene deficient mice or a specific neutralizing antibody directed to TLR3.

Measurements and Main Results:

Increased TLR3 expression was observed in airway epithelial cells from patients with ARDS. Further, hyperoxic conditions alone were a major stimulus for increased TLR3 expression and activation in cultured human epithelial cells. Interestingly, TLR3–/– mice exhibited less acute lung injury, activation of apoptotic cascades, and extracellular matrix deposition after 5 days of 80% oxygen compared with wild-type (TLR3+/+) mice under the same conditions. Administration of a monoclonal anti-TLR3 antibody to TLR3+/+ mice exposed to hyperoxic conditions likewise protected these mice from lung injury and inflammation.


The potential for redundancy in function as well as cross-talk between distinct TLRs may indeed contribute to whether the inflammatory cascade can be effectively disrupted once signaling has been initiated. Together, these data show that TLR3 has a major role in the development of ARDS-like pathology in the absence of a viral pathogen.

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