Background: All mucosal epithelia, including those of the tubotympanium, are secreting a variety of antimicrobial innate immune molecules (AIIMs). In our previous study, we showed the bactericidal/ bacteriostatic functions of AIIMs against various otitis media pathogens. Among the AIIMs, human β-defensin 2 is the most potent molecule and is inducible by exposure to inflammatory stimuli such as bacterial components or proinflammatory cytokines. Even though the β-defensin 2 is an important AIIM, the induction mechanism of this molecule has not been clearly established. We believe that this report is the first attempt to elucidate NTHi induced β-defensin expression in airway mucosa, which includes the middle ear. Methods: Monoclonal antibody blocking method was employed in monitoring the TLR-dependent NTHi response. Two gene knock down methods - dominant negative (DN) plasmid and small interfering RNA (siRNA) - were employed to detect and confirm the involvement of several key genes in the signaling cascade resulting from the NTHi stimulated β-defensin 2 expression in human middle ear epithelial cell (HMEEC-1). The student's t-test was used for the statistical analysis of the data. Results: The experimental results showed that the major NTHi-specific receptor in HMEEC-1 is the Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2). Furthermore, recognition of NTHi component(s)/ligand(s) by TLR2, activated the Toll/IL-1 receptor (TIR)-MyD88-IRAK1-TRAF6-MKK3/6-p38 MAPK signal transduction pathway, ultimately leading to the induction of β-defensin 2. Conclusion: This study found that the induction of β-defensin 2 is highest in whole cell lysate (WCL) preparations of NTHi, suggesting that the ligand(s) responsible for this up-regulation may be soluble macromolecule(s). We also found that this induction takes place through the TLR2 dependent MyD88-IRAK1-TRAF6-p38 MAPK pathway, with the primary response occurring within the first hour of stimulation. In combination with our previous studies showing that IL-1α-induced β-defensin 2 expression takes place through a MyD88-independent Raf-MEK1/2-ERK MAPK pathway, we found that both signaling cascades act synergistically to up-regulate β-defensin 2 levels. We propose that this confers an essential evolutionary advantage to the cells in coping with infections and may serve to amplify the innate immune response through paracrine signaling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases