Toll-like receptor and IL-12 signaling control susceptibility to contact hypersensitivity.
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Allergic contact hypersensitivity (CHS) is a T cell-mediated inflammatory skin disease. Interleukin (IL)-12 is considered to be important in the generation of the allergen-specific T cell response. Loss of IL-12 function in IL-12Rbeta2-deficient mice, however, did not ameliorate the allergic immune response, suggesting alternate IL-12-independent pathways in the induction of CHS. Because exposure to contact allergens always takes place in the presence of microbial skin flora, we investigated the potential role of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) in the induction of CHS. Using mice deficient in TLR4, the receptor for bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), IL-12 receptor (R) beta2, or both, we show that the concomitant absence of TLR4 and IL-12Rbeta2, but not the absence of TLR4 or IL-12Rbeta2 alone, prevented DC-mediated sensitization, generation of effector T cells, and the subsequent CHS response to 2,4,6-trinitro-1-chlorobenzene (TNCB), oxazolone, and fluorescein isothiocyanate. Introduction of the TLR4 transgene into the TLR4/IL-12Rbeta2 mutant restored the CHS inducibility, showing a requirement for TLR4 in IL-12-independent CHS induction. Furthermore, the concomitant absence of TLR2 and TLR4 prevented the induction of CHS to TNCB in IL-12-competent mice. Finally, CHS was inducible in germ-free wild-type and IL-12Rbeta2-deficient mice, but not in germ-free TLR4/IL-12Rbeta2 double deficient mice, suggesting that the necessary TLR activation may proceed via endogenous ligands.
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