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Heat stress upregulation of Toll-like receptors 2/4 and acute inflammatory cytokines in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) of Bama miniature pigs: an in vivo and in vitro study

  • X.-H. Ju (a1) (a2), H.-J. Xu (a3), Y.-H. Yong (a1), L.-L. An (a3), P.-R. Jiao (a2) and M. Liao (a2)...


Global warming is a challenge to animal health, because of increased heat stress, with subsequent induction of immunosuppression and increased susceptibility to disease. Toll-like receptors (TLR) are pattern recognition receptors that act as sentinels of pathogen invasion and tissue damage. Ligation of TLRs results in a signaling cascade and production of inflammatory cytokines, which eradicate pathogens and maintain the health of the host. We hypothesized that the TLR signaling pathway plays a role in immunosuppression in heat-stressed pigs. We explored the changes in the expression of TLR2, TLR4 and the concentration of acute inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-2, IL-8, IL-12 and IFN-γ in Bama miniature pigs subjected to 21 consecutive days of heat stress, both in vitro and in vivo models. The results showed that heat stress induced the upregulation of cortisol in the plasma of pigs (P<0.05); TLR4 mRNA was elevated, but IL-2 was reduced in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC, P<0.05). The white blood cell count and the percentage of granulocytes (eosinophilic+basophilic) decreased significantly in heat-stressed pigs (P<0.05). In the in vitro model (PBMC heat shocked for 1 h followed by a 9 h recovery period), TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA expression also increased, as did the concentration of IL-12 in supernatants. However, IFN-γ was significantly reduced in PBMC culture supernatants (P<0.05). We concluded that a consecutive heat stress period elevated the expression of TLR2 and TLR4 in PBMC and increased the plasma levels of inflammatory cytokines. These data indicate that TLR activation and dysregulation of cytokine expression in response to prolonged heat stress may be associated with immunosuppression and increased susceptibility to antigenic challenge in Bama miniature pigs.


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