In antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated vasculitis (AAV), Toll-like receptors (TLRs) may be engaged by infection-associated patterns and by endogenous danger signals, linking infection and innate inflammation with this autoimmune disease. This study examined intrarenal TLR2, TLR4, and TLR9 expression and renal injury in AAV, testing the hypothesis that increased TLR expression correlates with renal injury. Patients with AAV exhibited both glomerular and tubulointerstitial expression of TLR2, TLR4, and TLR9, with TLR4 being the most prominent in both compartments. Glomerular TLR4 expression correlated with glomerular segmental necrosis and cellular crescents, with TLR2 expression correlating with glomerular segmental necrosis. The extent and intensity of glomerular and tubulointerstitial TLR4 expression and the intensity of glomerular TLR2 expression inversely correlated with the presenting estimated glomerular filtration rate. Although myeloid cells within the kidney expressed TLR2, TLR4, and TLR9, TLR2 and TLR4 colocalized with endothelial cells and podocytes, whereas TLR9 was expressed predominantly by podocytes. The functional relevance of intrarenal TLR expression was further supported by the colocalization of TLRs with their endogenous ligands high-mobility group box 1 and fibrinogen. Therefore, in AAV, the extent of intrarenal TLR4 and TLR2 expression and their correlation with renal injury indicates that TLR4, and to a lesser degree TLR2, may be potential therapeutic targets in this disease.
- Antineutrophil cytoplasmic
- Toll-like receptors