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Differential membrane expression of Toll-like receptors and intracellular cytokine induction in peripheral blood monocytes of patients with chronic kidney disease and diabetic nephropathy.

BACKGROUND: Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are key players in the innate immune system whose activation leads to an inflammatory response. Inflammation plays an important role in the pathogenesis of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and diabetes mellitus. The aim of our study was to assess the proinflammatory state of nondialysis CKD patients by evaluating the membrane expression of TLR2 and TLR4 and the intracellular IL-1β and IL-6 production in response to the ligand Pam3Cys-Ser-(Lys)4 (Pam3CSK4).

METHODS: 85 nondialysis CKD patients [mean estimated glomerular filtration rate: 34 (17-90) ml/min/1.73 m(2)] were divided in 2 groups: 55 nondiabetic CKD patients (CKD group) and 30 patients with diabetic nephropathy (DN group). The two groups were compared with 36 healthy subjects (control group). TLR2 and TLR4 membrane expression in monocytes and Pam3CSK4-induced intracellular production of IL-1β and IL-6 were assessed by flow cytometry.

RESULTS: Both patient groups showed increased TLR2 membrane expression compared with the control group, both at baseline (p < 0.05 for both) and after Pam3CSK4 stimulation (p < 0.05 for both). The DN group exhibited significantly higher TLR4 expression at baseline compared to the CKD and control groups (p < 0.04 and p < 0.02, respectively). Intracellular IL-1β and IL-6 levels at baseline were significantly lower in CKD patients compared to the DN and control groups. After Pam3CSK4 stimulation, intracellular IL-1β and IL-6 increased in all groups, but were lower in the CKD group versus the control group or DN group, which exhibited higher levels than the controls.

CONCLUSIONS: Nondialysis CKD patients showed significant alterations in TLR2 and TLR4 membrane expression, and impaired Pam3CSK4-induced cytokine production in monocytes, a phenomenon that is markedly influenced by the presence of diabetes.

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