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Journal of Diabetes Research
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 790902, 15 pages
Research Article

Hyperglycemia Induces Toll-Like Receptor-2 and -4 Expression and Activity in Human Microvascular Retinal Endothelial Cells: Implications for Diabetic Retinopathy

1Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Department of Pathology, University of California Davis Medical Center, Research Building 1, Room 3000, 4635 Second Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA
2Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mather, CA 95655, USA

Received 31 October 2014; Accepted 10 December 2014; Published 31 December 2014

Academic Editor: Subrata Chakrabarti

Copyright © 2014 Uthra Rajamani and Ishwarlal Jialal. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Diabetic retinopathy (DR) causes visual impairment in working age adults and hyperglycemia-mediated inflammation is central in DR. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a key role in innate immune responses and inflammation. However, scanty data is available on their role in DR. Hence, in this study, we examined TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA and protein expression and activity in hyperglycemic human retinal endothelial cells (HMVRECs). HMVRECs were treated with hyperglycemia (HG) or euglycemia and mRNA and protein levels of TLR-2, TLR-4, MyD88, IRF3, and TRIF as well as NF-κB p65 activation were measured. IL-8, IL-1β, TNF-α and MCP-1, ICAM-1, and VCAM-1 as well as monocyte adhesion to HMVRECs were also assayed. HG (25 mM) significantly induced TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA and protein in HMVRECs. It also increased both MyD88 and non-MyD88 pathways, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), biomediators, and monocyte adhesion. This inflammation was attenuated by TLR-4 or TLR-2 inhibition, and dual inhibition by a TLR inhibitory peptide as well as TLR2 and 4 siRNA. Additionally, antioxidant treatment reduced TLR-2 and TLR4 expression and downstream inflammatory markers. Collectively, our novel data suggest that hyperglycemia induces TLR-2 and TLR-4 activation and downstream signaling mediating increased inflammation possibly via reactive oxygen species (ROS) and could contribute to DR.