Children with atopic histories exhibit impaired lipopolysaccharide-induced Toll-like receptor-4 signalling in peripheral monocytes


Bruce D. Mazer, Meakins-Christie Laboratories, McGill University Health Center Research Institute, 3626 St-Urbain, Montreal, QC, Canada H2X 2P2.


Background The hygiene hypothesis states that early exposure to bacterial products such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) may be protective against the development of allergic diseases. Whether atopic disease affects the ability of immune cells to respond to LPS is unclear. Our laboratory has demonstrated previously that children express high levels of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4 on CD4+ cells in nasal mucosa.

Objective To determine if children with a history of allergic disease have impaired responses to LPS on circulating CD4+ leucocytes.

Methods Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from children (aged 2–18) and adults with or without a history of atopic conditions were cultured with/without IL-4 or LPS for up to 24 h. Expression of surface TLR-4, CD14, CD4, CD3, as well as of intracellular phosphorylated p42/p44ERK and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) were assessed by flow cytometry.

Results A history of atopy in children was associated with impaired LPS-induced TLR-4-dependent phosphorylation of p42/44ERK and p38 MAPK by CD4+ monocytes. Decreased LPS signalling was reproduced by pre-incubation of control cells with recombinant IL-4. LPS stimulation also decreased TLR-4 expression on monocytes from children without atopic histories but not from atopic subjects. CD4+ T lymphocytes showed limited LPS responsiveness, regardless of atopic status. In contrast with non-atopic children, TLR-4 expression on monocytes of children with atopic histories decreased as a function of age.

Conclusions This study provides evidence for defective LPS recognition on circulating CD4+ leucocytes of subjects with atopic histories compared with those from non-atopic children. CD4+TLR4+ monocytes from children with atopic histories failed to phosphorylate MAPKs. Our results suggest that a history of atopic disease is associated with impaired TLR-4-mediated innate immune function compared with non-atopic children.

Cite this as: D. Préfontaine, A.-A. Banville-Langelier, P.-O. Fiset, J. Guay, J. An, M. Mazer, Q. Hamid and B. D. Mazer, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2010 (40) 1648–1657.