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Calcineurin Inactivation Leads to Decreased Responsiveness to LPS in Macrophages and Dendritic Cells and Protects Against LPS-Induced Toxicity In Vivo

Jennings C, Kusler B, Jones PP

Microbial components such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS) bind to Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and activate innate and inflammatory responses. Responses to LPS and other microbial components are limited by the activation of negative feedback mechanisms that reduce responsiveness to subsequent LPS exposure, often termed LPS tolerance. Our laboratory has previously shown that calcineurin, a phosphatase known for its activation of T cells via NFAT, negatively regulates the TLR pathway in macrophages; consequently, calcineurin inhibitors (FK506 and cyclosporin A) mimic TLR ligands in activating the TLR pathway, NF-KB, and associated innate and inflammatory responses. This study investigated the physiological consequences of calcineurin inactivation for LPS-induced inflammatory responses in vitro and in vivo using two models: calcineurin inhibition by FK506 (tacrolimus) and myeloid cell-specific calcineurin deletion. Activation of dendritic cells and macrophages with FK506 in vitro was shown to induce a state of reduced responsiveness to LPS (i.e. a form of LPS tolerance). Similarly, macrophages from FK506-treated mice or from mice in which the calcineurin B1 (CnB1) subunit was conditionally knocked out in myeloid cells were found to have diminished LPS-induced inflammatory responses. In addition, mice with CnB1-deficient myeloid cells and mice undergoing FK506 treatment showed improved survival and recovery when challenged with high doses of systemic LPS compared to controls. These results demonstrate that inactivation of calcineurin in macrophages and other myeloid cells by inhibition or deletion can induce a form of LPS tolerance and protect the host from LPS toxicity in vivo.

  • PubMed ID: 19318421