Toll-like receptor expression in pulmonary sensory neurons in the bleomycin-induced fibrosis model

Won Jai Jung, Sang Yeub Lee, Sue In Choi, Byung Keun Kim, Eun Joo Lee, Kwang Ho In, Min Goo Lee

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Airway sensory nerves are known to express several receptors and channels that are activated by exogenous and endogenous mediators that cause coughing. Toll-like receptor (TLR) s are expressed in nociceptive neurons and play an important role in neuroinflammation. However, there have been very few studies of TLR expression in lung-derived sensory neurons or their relevance to respiratory symptoms such as cough. We used the bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis model to investigate the change in TLR expression in pulmonary neurons and the association of TLRs with transient receptor potential (TRP) channels in pulmonary neurons. After 2 weeks of bleomycin or saline administration, pulmonary fibrosis changes were confirmed using tissue staining and the SIRCOL collagen assay. TLRs (TLR 1–9) and TRP channel expression was analyzed using single cell reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT- PCR) in isolated sensory neurons from the nodose/jugular ganglion and the dorsal root ganglion (DRG). Pulmonary sensory neurons expressed TLR2 and TLR5. In the bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis model, TLR2 expression was detected in 29.5% (18/61) and 26.9% (21/78) of pulmonary nodose/jugular neurons and DRG neurons, respectively. TLR5 was also detected in 55.7% (34/61) and 42.3% (33/78) of pulmonary nodose/jugular neurons and DRG neurons, respectively, in the bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis model. TLR5 was expressed in 63.4% of TRPV1 positive cells and 43.4% of TRPM8 positive cells. In conclusion, TLR2 and TLR5 expression is enhanced, especially in vagal neurons, in the bleomycin-induced fibrosis model group when compared to the saline treated control group. Co-expression of TLR5 and TRP channels in pulmonary sensory neurons was also observed. This work sheds new light on the role of TLRs in the control and manifestation of clinical symptoms, such as cough. To understand the role of TLRs in pulmonary sensory nerves, further study will be required.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0193117
    JournalPloS one
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    This study was supported by grants from Korea University (No. K1507811 to SYL) and Samjin Pharmaceutical Co (No. Q1526261 to SYL). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

    Publisher Copyright:
    © 2018 Jung et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
    • General


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