Human host defense peptide LL-37 facilitates double-stranded RNA pro-inflammatory signaling through up-regulation of TLR3 expression in vascular smooth muscle cells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


OBJECTIVE: The importance of human host defense peptide LL-37 in vascular innate immunity is not understood. Here, we assess the impact of LL-37 on double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) signaling in human vascular smooth muscle cells.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Cellular import of LL-37 and synthetic dsRNA (poly I:C) were investigated by immunocytochemistry and fluorescence imaging. Transcript and protein expression were determined by qPCR, ELISA and Western blot. Knockdown of TLR3 was performed by siRNA.

RESULTS: LL-37 was rapidly internalized, suggesting that it has intracellular actions. Co-stimulation with poly I:C and LL-37 enhanced pro-inflammatory IL-6 and MCP-1 transcripts several fold compared to treatment with poly I:C or LL-37 alone. Poly I:C increased IL-6 and MCP-1 protein production, and this effect was potentiated by LL-37. LL-37-induced stimulation of poly I:C signaling was not associated with enhanced import of poly I:C. Treatment with poly I:C and LL-37 in combination increased expression of dsRNA receptor TLR3 compared to stimulation with poly I:C or LL-37 alone. In TLR3 knockdown cells, treatment with poly I:C and LL-37 in combination had no effect on IL-6 and MCP-1 expression, showing loss of function.

CONCLUSIONS: LL-37 potentiates dsRNA-induced cytokine production through up-regulation of TLR3 expression representing a novel pro-inflammatory mechanism.


External organisations
  • Karolinska Institutet
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-588
JournalInflammation Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch