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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Inhibition of TLR8- and TLR4-induced Type I IFN induction by alcohol is different from its effects on inflammatory cytokine production in monocytes

Maoyin Pang12, Shashi Bala1, Karen Kodys1, Donna Catalano1 and Gyongyi Szabo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 364 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Brown University School of Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, USA

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BMC Immunology 2011, 12:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2172-12-55

Published: 30 September 2011

Abstract

Background

Prolonged alcohol consumption is a significant co-factor in the progression of chronic viral infections including hepatitis C and HIV, which are both single-stranded RNA viruses. Toll like receptor 8 (TLR8), a pattern recognition receptor expressed in monocytes, senses viral single stranded RNA as a danger signal and leads to the induction of Type I interferon (IFN) as well as the pro-inflammatory cytokine, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha). Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a Toll like receptor 4 (TLR4) ligand, was shown to affect inflammatory cell activation after alcohol consumption and in HIV and HCV infections. Here we hypothesized that alcohol exposure modulates TLR8- and TLR4-ligand-induced monocyte activation and affects both type I IFN and inflammatory cytokine induction.

Results

The TLR8 ligand, CL075, as well as the TLR4 ligand, LPS, resulted in a significant induction of TNF alpha both at the mRNA and protein levels in human monocytes. We found that both acute and prolonged alcohol treatment resulted in inhibition of type I IFN induction by either TLR8 or TLR4 ligands in human monocytes at the protein and mRNA levels. In contrast to Type I IFN production, the effects of acute and prolonged alcohol were different on inflammatory cytokine activation after TLR8 or TLR4 ligand stimulation. Acute alcohol inhibited TLR8- or TLR4-induced TNF alpha protein and mRNA induction while it augmented IL-10 production in monocytes. In contrast, prolonged alcohol treatment augmented TNF alpha without affecting IL-10 production significantly in response to either TLR8 or TLR4 ligand stimulation.

Conclusions

These novel results suggest first, that alcohol has a profound inhibitory effect on Type I IFN induction regardless of intracellular (TLR8) or cell surface-derived (TLR4) danger signals. Second, both acute and prolonged alcohol exposure can inhibit antiviral Type I IFN pathway activation. Third, the opposite effects of acute (inhibitory) and prolonged alcohol (augmentation) treatment on pro-inflammatory cytokine activation extend to TLR8-induced signals beyond the previously shown TLR4/LPS pathway.

Keywords:
Acute; chronic; alcohol; IFN╬▓; IL-10; TNF alpha