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Front Immunol


Endothelial TLR4 Expression Mediates Vaso-Occlusive Crisis in Sickle Cell Disease.


Beckman JD, Abdullah F, Chen C, Kirchner R, Rivera-Rodriguez D, Kiser ZM, Nguyen A, Zhang P, Nguyen J, Hebbel RP, Belcher JD, Vercellotti GM
Front Immunol. 2020; 11:613278.
PMID: 33542720.


Heme, released from red blood cells in sickle cell disease (SCD), interacts with toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) to activate NF-κB leading to the production of cytokines and adhesion molecules which promote inflammation, pain, and vaso-occlusion. In SCD, TLR4 inhibition has been shown to modulate heme-induced microvascular stasis and lung injury. We sought to delineate the role of endothelial verses hematopoietic TLR4 in SCD by developing a TLR4 null transgenic sickle mouse. We bred a global deficiency state into Townes-AA mice expressing normal human adult hemoglobin A and Townes-SS mice expressing sickle hemoglobin S. SS- had similar complete blood counts and serum chemistries as SS- mice. However, SS- mice developed significantly less microvascular stasis in dorsal skin fold chambers than SS- mice in response to challenges with heme, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R). To define a potential mechanism for decreased microvascular stasis in SS- mice, we measured pro-inflammatory NF-κB and adhesion molecules in livers post-heme challenge. Compared to heme-challenged SS- livers, SS- livers had lower adhesion molecule and cytokine mRNAs, NF-κB phospho-p65, and adhesion molecule protein expression. Furthermore, lung P-selectin and von Willebrand factor immunostaining was reduced. Next, to establish if endothelial or hematopoietic cell TLR4 signaling is critical to vaso-occlusive physiology, we created chimeric mice by transplanting SS- or SS- bone marrow into AA- or AA- recipients. Hemin-stimulated microvascular stasis was significantly decreased when the recipient was AA- . These data demonstrate that endothelial, but not hematopoietic, TLR4 expression is necessary to initiate vaso-occlusive physiology in SS mice.