Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are pattern recognition molecules that initiate innate immune responses. Intra-amniotic exposure of fetal sheep to pro-inflammatory stimuli causes pulmonary inflammation and induced lung maturation. We examined TLR ontogeny and fetal lung responsiveness to three different TLR agonists. We cloned ovine TLRs 2, 3, and 4 and found 83-88 homology between these ovine and human TLRs. Lung TLR2 and 4 mRNAs increased throughout late gestation to 50 of adult level in the term newborn lamb. Doses of 10 mg of PAMCysK4 (TLR2 agonist), poly I:C dsRNA (TLR3 agonist), or E. coli O55:B5 lipopoysaccharide (LPS) (TLR4 agonist) were given by intra-amniotic injection 2 d or 7 d before operative delivery of preterm lambs at 123 d (n = 4-7/group). The TLR4 agonist induced lung inflammation and maturation, whereas the TLR2 agonist gave less consistent responses. Intra-amniotic LPS increased TLR2 mRNA expression primarily in the inflammatory cells and TLR4 mRNA diffusely in multiple cell types. The TLR3 agonist had no effects, and TLR3 mRNA in the fetal lung did not change after LPS exposure. We conclude that TLR2 and TLR4 mRNAs increase through gestation and expression of TLR2 and TLR4 are induced by LPS in the fetal sheep lung.
Hillman, N., Moss, T., Nitsos, I., Kramer, B., Bachurski, C., Ikegami, M., Jobe, A., & Kallapur, S. (2008). Toll-like receptors and agonist responses in the developing fetal sheep lung. Pediatric Research, 63(4), 388 - 393. https://doi.org/10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181647b3a