Impaired Cytokine Response in Myeloid Dendritic Cells in Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection Regardless of Enhanced Expression of Toll-Like Receptors and Retinoic Acid Inducible Gene-I

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Dendritic cells utilize various sets of Toll-like receptors (TLR) or cytosolic sensors to detect pathogens and evoke immune responses. In patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, a higher prevalence of various infectious diseases is reported; suggesting that innate immunity against pathogens is impaired. The aim of this study was to clarify whether the TLR and retinoic acid inducible gene-I (RIG-I) system in myeloid dendritic cells is preserved or not in chronic HCV infection. The expression of TLRs, RIG-I and its relatives were compared in myeloid dendritic cells between 39 patients and 52 healthy volunteers. The induction of type-I interferon (IFN) and inflammatory cytokines was examined in response to agonists for TLR2 (palmitoyl-3-cysteine-serine-lysine-4), TLR3/RIG-I (polyinosine-polycytidylic acid) or TLR4 (lipopolysaccharide). The relative expressions of TLR2, TLR4, RIG-I, and LGP2 from the patients were significantly higher than those from the volunteers, whereas TLR3 and MDA-5 expressions did not differ. In search for factors regulating TLR/RIG-I expression, it was shown that IFN-a, polyinosine-polycytidylic acid and lipopolysaccharide induced TLR3, TLR4 and RIG-I, but TNF-α, HCV core or HCV non-structural proteins did not. For the functional analyses, myeloid dendritic cells from the patients induced significantly less amounts of IFN-β, TNF-α and IL-12p70 in response to polyinosine-polycytidylic acid or lipopolysaccharide. It is noteworthy that the expression of TRIF and TRAF6, which are essential adaptor molecules transmitting TLR3 or TLR4-dependent signals, is reduced in the patients. Thus, innate cytokine responses in myeloid dendritic cells are impaired regardless of enhanced expressions of TLR2, TLR4, and RIG-I in HCV infection.

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