Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR-3) gene expression and interleukin 6 (IL-6) secretion were studied in corneal cells with herpes simplex virus (HSV). Human corneal epithelial cells (HCEs) and primary human corneal fibroblasts (HCRFs) were infected with live HSV or UV-inactivated HSV (UV-HSV), transfected with HSV DNA or treated with HSV-anti-HSV IgG immune complexes. Gene expression of TLR-3 and -9 was analysed by real-time PCR. Supernatants were assayed for IL-6 by ELISA. Incubation of HCEs and HCRFs with live HSV-1, UV-HSV and HSV DNA resulted in augmented TLR-3 and -9 gene expression and IL-6 release. Moreover, infected or transfected HCRFs released greater amounts of IL-6 than did HCEs. As virus is frequently in the form of neutralized virus immune complexes, the ability of these immune complexes to interact with TLRs and trigger IL-6 production was evaluated. Here, it is shown that HSV-anti-HSV IgG complexes were as potent as HSV DNA in their ability to induce IL-6. Treatment of HCRFs transfected with HSV DNA with the TLR-9-inhibitory oligomer iODN, anti-TLR-3 antibody or phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase inhibitor indicated that IL-6 release from HCRFs was mediated by TLR-3 and -9 gene expression. These results demonstrated that neutralized HSV immune complexes were as potent as HSV DNA in enhancing IL-6 release from corneal fibroblasts. These phenomena were mediated via augmented TLR-3 and -9 gene expression.
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