Primary sensory neurons regulate Toll-like receptor-4-dependent activity of glial cells in dorsal root ganglia

K. H. Tse, K. B.S. Chow, W. K. Leung, Y. H. Wong, H. Wise

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4) has been identified in primary sensory neurons, both in vivo and in vitro, but is reportedly absent from satellite glial cells (SGCs). Herein we reveal that, in rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG), SGCs do express TLR4 but this expression is inhibited by direct contact with neurons. Thus, TLR4 mRNA and protein is strongly up-regulated in isolated DRG glial cells in the absence of neurons. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) increased cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNFα) mRNA expression with greater efficacy in DRG glial cell cultures than in mixed DRG cell cultures containing TLR4-positive neurons. Using an insert co-culture system, we have shown that neuronal inhibition of glial cell TLR4 is likely to be dependent on cell-cell contact rather than diffusible factors from neurons. LPS stimulated prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production from DRG glial cells in a TLR4- and COX-2-dependent manner. In addition, exogenous PGE2 potentiated LPS-stimulated COX-2 mRNA while inhibiting TNFα mRNA expression by DRG cells, suggestive of a complex regulatory system to control inflammation within the DRG. In addition to LPS, conditioned medium from heat-shocked DRG neurons also increased COX-2 mRNA expression in DRG glial cells in a partially TLR4-dependent manner. We therefore hypothesize that neuronal suppression of glial TLR4 activity is a protective mechanism to prevent uncontrolled inflammation within the DRG. Under conditions where DRG neuronal viability is compromised, DRG glial cells become responsive to PAMPs (pathogen-associated molecular patterns) and DAMPs (danger-associated molecular patterns) and generate a range of classical inflammatory responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-22
Number of pages13
Early online date27 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • COX-2
  • Dorsal root ganglia
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Prostaglandin E
  • Satellite glial cells
  • TLR4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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