A central role for monocytes in Toll-like receptor-mediated activation of the vasculature


Professor I. Sabroe, Academic Unit of Respiratory Medicine, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, The University of Sheffield, L Floor, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield S10 2JF, UK.
E-mail: i.sabroe@sheffield.ac.uk
Senior author: Lan Sabroe


There is increasing evidence that activation of inflammatory responses in a variety of tissues is mediated co-operatively by the actions of more than one cell type. In particular, the monocyte has been implicated as a potentially important cell in the initiation of inflammatory responses to Toll-like receptor (TLR)-activating signals. To determine the potential for monocyte-regulated activation of tissue cells to underpin inflammatory responses in the vasculature, we established cocultures of primary human endothelial cells and monocytes and dissected the inflammatory responses of these systems following activation with TLR agonists. We observed that effective activation of inflammatory responses required bidirectional signalling between the monocyte and the tissue cell. Activation of cocultures was dependent on interleukin-1 (IL-1). Although monocyte-mediated IL-1β production was crucial to the activation of cocultures, TLR specificity to these responses was also provided by the endothelial cells, which served to regulate the signalling of the monocytes. TLR4-induced IL-1β production by monocytes was increased by TLR4-dependent endothelial activation in coculture, and was associated with increased monocyte CD14 expression. Activation of this inflammatory network also supported the potential for downstream monocyte-dependent T helper type 17 activation. These data define co-operative networks regulating inflammatory responses to TLR agonists, identify points amenable to targeting for the amelioration of vascular inflammation, and offer the potential to modify atherosclerotic plaque instability after a severe infection.