In this study we investigated whether induction of toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) amplifies the effect of a cell wall component derived from gram-positive bacteria, namely peptidoglycan (PGN). Mice received a first systemic lipopolysaccharide (LPS) injection to pre-induce TLR2 in various regions of the brain, and 6 h later, a second administration of either LPS or PGN. The data show a robust transcriptional activation of TLR2, TNF-alpha and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) in microglial cells of mice challenged twice with LPS, whereas PGN essentially abolished this response. TLR4 plays a critical role in this process, because C3H/HeJ mice no longer responded to LPS but exhibited a normal reaction to PGN. Conversely, a robust signal for genes encoding innate immune proteins was found in the brain of TLR2-deficient mice challenged with LPS. However, the second LPS bolus failed to trigger TNF-alpha and IL-12 in TLR2-deficient mice, while the same treatment caused a strong induction of these genes in the cerebral tissue of wild-type littermates. The present data provide evidence that cooperation exists between TLR4 and TLR2. While TLR4 is absolutely necessary to engage the innate immune response in the brain, TLR2 participates in the regulation of genes encoding TNF-alpha and IL-12 during severe endotoxemia. Such collaboration between TLR4 and TLR2 may be determinant for the transfer from the innate to the adaptive immunity within the CNS of infected animals.
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