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Endophthalmitis is a serious intraocular infection that frequently results in significant inflammation and vision loss. Because current therapeutics are often unsuccessful in mitigating damaging inflammation during endophthalmitis, more rational targets are needed. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) recognize specific motifs on invading pathogens and initiate the innate inflammatory response. We reported that TLR4 contributes to the robust inflammation which is a hallmark of Bacillus cereus endophthalmitis. To identify novel, targetable host inflammatory factors in this disease, we performed microarray analysis to detect TLR4-dependent changes to the retinal transcriptome during B. cereus endophthalmitis.
C57BL/6 J and TLR4−/− mouse eyes were infected with B. cereus and retinas were harvested at 4 h postinfection, a time representing the earliest onset of neutrophil infiltration. Genes related to acute inflammation and inflammatory cell recruitment including CXCL1 (KC), CXCL2 (MIP2-α), CXCL10 (IP-10), CCL2 (MCP1), and CCL3 (MIP1-α)) were significantly upregulated 5-fold or greater in C57BL/6 J retinas. The immune modulator IL-6, intercellular adhesion molecule ICAM1, and the inhibitor of cytokine signal transduction SOCS3 were upregulated 25-, 11-, and 10-fold, respectively, in these retinas. LIF, which is crucial for photoreceptor cell survival, was increased 6-fold. PTGS2/COX-2, which converts arachidonic acid to prostaglandin endoperoxide H2, was upregulated 9-fold. PTX3, typically produced in response to TLR engagement, was induced 15-fold. None of the aforementioned genes were upregulated in TLR4−/− retinas following B. cereus infection.
Our results have identified a cohort of mediators driven by TLR4 that may be important in regulating pro-inflammatory and protective pathways in the retina in response to B. cereus intraocular infection. This supports the prospect that blocking the activation of TLR-based pathways might serve as alternative targets for Gram-positive and Gram-negative endophthalmitis therapies in general.