Free light chains (FLCs) induce inflammatory pathways in proximal tubule cells (PTCs). The role of TLRs in these responses is unknown. Here we present findings on the role of TLRs in FLC-induced PTC injury. We exposed human kidney PTC cultures to κ and λ FLCs and used cell supernatants and pellets for ELISA and gene expression studies. We also analyzed tissues from Stat1–/– and littermate control mice treated with daily i.p. injections of a κ FLC for 10 days. FLCs increased the expression of TLR2, TLR4, and TLR6 via HMGB1, a damage-associated molecular pattern. Countering TLR2, TLR4, and TLR6 through GIT-27 or specific TLR siRNAs reduced downstream cytokine responses. Blocking HMGB1 through siRNA or pharmacologic inhibition, or via STAT1 inhibition, reduced FLC-induced TLR2, TLR4, and TLR6 expression. Blocking endocytosis of FLCs through silencing of megalin/cubilin, with bafilomycin A1 or hypertonic sucrose, attenuated FLC-induced cytokine responses in PTCs. IHC showed decreased TLR4 and TLR6 expression in kidney sections from Stat1–/– mice compared with their littermate controls. PTCs exposed to FLCs released HMGB1, which induced expression of TLR2, TLR4, and TLR6 and downstream inflammation. Blocking FLCs’ endocytosis, Stat1 knockdown, HMGB1 inhibition, and TLR knockdown each rescued PTCs from FLC-induced injury.


Rohit Upadhyay, Wei-Zhong Ying, Zannatul Nasrin, Hana Safah, Edgar A. Jaimes, Wenguang Feng, Paul W. Sanders, Vecihi Batuman


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