• lipopolysaccharide;
  • signal transduction;
  • isoprenoid pathway;
  • protein prenylation;
  • toxin B


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are sentinels of innate immunity that recognize pathogenic molecules and trigger inflammatory response. Because inflammatory mediators are detrimental to the host, the TLR response is regulated by feedback inhibition. Statins, the inhibitors of isoprenoid biosynthesis, have been shown to be potent modulators of TLR activity, and this modulation may provide insight regarding mechanisms of the feedback inhibition. In the present study, we examined feedback mechanisms that regulate TLR4 activity in astrocytes using statins to perturb postligational signaling. Astrocytic cultures established from newborn rat brains were exposed to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the ligand for TLR4. The up-regulation of expression of genes encoding interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) was determined by real-time RT-PCR. Pretreatment of the cells with either atorvastatin or simvastatin enhanced the LPS-induced up-regulation of cytokine gene expression. The most profound enhancement of approximately 17-fold was observed for the Il-6 gene. The enhancements for the Tnfa and Il-1b genes were approximately 5- and 3.5-fold, respectively. Mevalonate fully reversed the effects of statins, indicating that these drugs act through the inhibition of isoprenoid synthesis. The inhibition of protein geranylgeranylation, but not protein farnesylation, mimicked the effects of statins, strongly indicating that the enhancement is mediated by the Rho proteins. In support of this notion, pretreatment of cells with toxin B, a specific inhibitor of the Rho proteins, also enhanced LPS-triggered up-regulation of the cytokine genes. These results indicate that the Rho proteins are involved in the activation of negative feedback inhibition of TLR4 signaling in astrocytes. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.