High Glucose Induces Toll-Like Receptor Expression in Human Monocytes

Mechanism of Activation

  1. Mohan R. Dasu1,
  2. Sridevi Devaraj1,
  3. Ling Zhao2,
  4. Daniel H. Hwang2 and
  5. Ishwarlal Jialal1
  1. 1Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research, University of California Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, California
  2. 2U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service Western Human Nutrition Research Center and University of California, Davis, California
  1. Corresponding author: Ishwarlal Jialal, ishwarlal.jialal{at}


OBJECTIVE—Hyperglycemia-induced inflammation is central in diabetes complications, and monocytes are important in orchestrating these effects. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a key role in innate immune responses and inflammation. However, there is a paucity of data examining the expression and activity of TLRs in hyperglycemic conditions. Thus, in the present study, we examined TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA and protein expression and mechanism of their induction in monocytic cells under high-glucose conditions.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—High glucose (15 mmol/l) significantly induced TLR2 and TLR4 expression in THP-1 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05). High glucose increased TLR expression, myeloid differentiation factor 88, interleukin-1 receptor–associated kinase-1, and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) p65-dependent activation in THP-1 cells. THP-1 cell data were further confirmed using freshly isolated monocytes from healthy human volunteers (n = 10).

RESULTS—Pharmacological inhibition of protein kinase C (PKC) activity and NADPH oxidase significantly decreased TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA and protein (P < 0.05). Knocking down both TLR2 and TLR4 in the cells resulted in a 76% (P < 0.05) decrease in high-glucose–induced NF-κB activity, suggesting an additive effect. Furthermore, PKC-α knockdown decreased TLR2 by 61% (P < 0.05), whereas inhibition of PKC-δ decreased TLR4 under high glucose by 63% (P < 0.05). Small inhibitory RNA to p47Phox in THP-1 cells abrogated high-glucose–induced TLR2 and TLR4 expression. Additional studies revealed that PKC-α, PKC-δ, and p47Phox knockdown significantly abrogated high-glucose–induced NF-κB activation and inflammatory cytokine secretion.

CONCLUSIONS—Collectively, these data suggest that high glucose induces TLR2 and -4 expression via PKC-α and PKC-δ, respectively, by stimulating NADPH oxidase in human monocytes.


  • Published ahead of print at on 23 July 2008.

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    • Accepted July 21, 2008.
    • Received April 25, 2008.
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  1. Diabetes vol. 57 no. 11 3090-3098
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