Heme, released from red blood cells in sickle cell disease (SCD), interacts with toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) to activate NF-κB leading to the production of cytokines and adhesion molecules which promote inflammation, pain, and vaso-occlusion. In SCD, TLR4 inhibition has been shown to modulate heme-induced microvascular stasis and lung injury. We sought to delineate the role of endothelial verses hematopoietic TLR4 in SCD by developing a TLR4 null transgenic sickle mouse. We bred a global Tlr4-/- deficiency state into Townes-AA mice expressing normal human adult hemoglobin A and Townes-SS mice expressing sickle hemoglobin S. SS-Tlr4-/- had similar complete blood counts and serum chemistries as SS-Tlr4+/+ mice. However, SS-Tlr4-/- mice developed significantly less microvascular stasis in dorsal skin fold chambers than SS-Tlr4+/+ mice in response to challenges with heme, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R). To define a potential mechanism for decreased microvascular stasis in SS-Tlr4-/- mice, we measured pro-inflammatory NF-κB and adhesion molecules in livers post-heme challenge. Compared to heme-challenged SS-Tlr4+/+ livers, SS-Tlr4-/- livers had lower adhesion molecule and cytokine mRNAs, NF-κB phospho-p65, and adhesion molecule protein expression. Furthermore, lung P-selectin and von Willebrand factor immunostaining was reduced. Next, to establish if endothelial or hematopoietic cell TLR4 signaling is critical to vaso-occlusive physiology, we created chimeric mice by transplanting SS-Tlr4-/- or SS-Tlr4+/+ bone marrow into AA-Tlr4-/- or AA-Tlr4+/+ recipients. Hemin-stimulated microvascular stasis was significantly decreased when the recipient was AA-Tlr4-/-. These data demonstrate that endothelial, but not hematopoietic, TLR4 expression is necessary to initiate vaso-occlusive physiology in SS mice.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Conflict of Interest: JBec receives funding from Bayer not related to work herein. JBel and GV receive research funding from CSL Behring and Mitobridge (Astellas).
The authors would like to thank Elena Aronovich, Jacob Lloyd, and Kristine Nachbor for assistance with laboratory work.
Research funding from NIH 5R01HL114567. ZK was supported by the Hematology Research Training Grant T32 L007062/HL/ NHLBI. RK and DR-R received funding from University of Minnesota Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Program (LSSURP) 5R25HL088728-14.
© Copyright © 2021 Beckman, Abdullah, Chen, Kirchner, Rivera-Rodriguez, Kiser, Nguyen, Zhang, Nguyen, Hebbel, Belcher and Vercellotti.
- Toll-like receptor 4
- sickle cell disease
- vaso-occlusive events