Modulation of the TLR-Mediated Inflammatory Response by the Endogenous Human Host Defense Peptide LL-37 Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract The sole human cathelicidin peptide, LL-37, has been demonstrated to protect animals against endotoxemia/sepsis. Low, physiological concentrations of LL-37 (≤1 μg/ml) were able to modulate inflammatory responses by inhibiting the release of the proinflammatory cytokine TNF-α in LPS-stimulated human monocytic cells. Microarray studies established a temporal transcriptional profile and identified differentially expressed genes in LPS-stimulated monocytes in the presence or absence of LL-37. LL-37 significantly inhibited the expression of specific proinflammatory genes up-regulated by NF-κB in the presence of LPS, including NFκB1 (p105/p50) and TNF-α-induced protein 2 (TNFAIP2). In contrast, LL-37 did not significantly inhibit LPS-induced genes that antagonize inflammation, such as TNF-α-induced protein 3 (TNFAIP3) and the NF-κB inhibitor, NFκBIA, or certain chemokine genes that are classically considered proinflammatory. Nuclear translocation, in LPS-treated cells, of the NF-κB subunits p50 and p65 was reduced ≥50% in the presence of LL-37, demonstrating that the peptide altered gene expression in part by acting directly on the TLR-to-NF-κB pathway. LL-37 almost completely prevented the release of TNF-α and other cytokines by human PBMC following stimulation with LPS and other TLR2/4 and TLR9 agonists, but not with cytokines TNF-α or IL-1β. Biochemical and inhibitor studies were consistent with a model whereby LL-37 modulated the inflammatory response to LPS/endotoxin and other agonists of TLR by a complex mechanism involving multiple points of intervention. We propose that the natural human host defense peptide LL-37 plays roles in the delicate balancing of inflammatory responses in homeostasis as well as in combating sepsis induced by certain TLR agonists.


  • Mookherjee, Neeloffer
  • Brown, Kelly L
  • Bowdish, Dawn
  • Doria, Silvana
  • Falsafi, Reza
  • Hokamp, Karsten
  • Roche, Fiona M
  • Mu, Ruixia
  • Doho, Gregory H
  • Pistolic, Jelena
  • Powers, Jon-Paul
  • Bryan, Jenny
  • Brinkman, Fiona SL
  • Hancock, Robert EW

publication date

  • February 15, 2006