Interactive role of the toll-like receptor 4 and reactive oxygen species in LPS-induced microglia activation

Liya Qin, Guorong Li, Xun Qian, Yuxin Liu, Xuefei Wu, Bin Liu, Jau Shyong Hong, Michelle L. Block

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

131 Scopus citations


Microglia are activated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to produce neurotoxic pro-inflammatory factors and reactive oxygen species (ROS). While a multitude of LPS receptors and corresponding pathways have been identified, the detailed mechanisms mediating the microglial response to LPS are unclear. Using mice lacking a functional toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), we demonstrate that TLR4 and ROS work in concert to mediate microglia activation, where the contribution from each pathway is dependent on the concentration of LPS. Immunocytochemical staining of microglia in neuronglia cultures with antibodies against F4/80 revealed that while TLR4+/+ microglia were activated the low concentration of 1 ng/ml of LPS, TLR4-/- microglia exhibit activated morphology in response to LPS only at higher concentrations (100-1,000 ng/ml). Additionally, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) was only produced from higher concentrations (100-1,000 ng/ml) of LPS in TLR4-α enriched microglia cultures. Diphenylene iodonium (DPI), an inhibitor of NADPH oxidase, reduced TNF-α production from TLR4-/- microglia. The influence of TLR4 on LPS-induced superoxide production was tested in rat enriched microglia cultures, where the presence or absence of serum failed to show any effect on the superoxide production. Further, both TLR4-/- and TLR4+/+ microglia showed a similar increase in extracellular superoxide production when exposed to LPS (1-1,000 ng/ml). These data indicate that LPS-induced superoxide production in microglia is independent of TLR4 and that ROS derived from the production of extracellular superoxide in microglia mediates the LPS-induced TNF-α response of both the TLR4-dependent and independent pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-84
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2005


  • Inflammation
  • LPS
  • Microglia
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • TLR4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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