TLR4-NOX2 axis regulates the phagocytosis and killing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by macrophages

Jingzhu Lv, Xiaoyan He, Hongtao Wang, Zhaohua Wang, Gabriel T. Kelly, Xiaojing Wang, Yin Chen, Ting Wang, Zhongqing Qian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Macrophages stand at the forefront of both innate and adapted immunity through their capacities to recognize, engulf, and eliminate foreign particles, and to stimulate adapted immune cells. They are also involved in controlling pro- and anti-inflammatory pathways. Macrophage activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) has been shown to involve Toll-like receptor (TLR) activation and ROS production. Previous studies have shown that lipopolysaccharide (LPS), through TLR4, could activate macrophages, improve their bactericidal ROS production, and facilitate anti-infective immune responses. We sought to better understand the role of the TLR4-NOX2 axis in macrophage activation during M. tuberculosis infection. Methods: THP-1 macrophages and PMA primed THP-1 macrophages [THP-1(A)] were treated with LPS and infected by M. tuberculosis. Cells were analyzed by flow cytometry for TLR4 expression, ROS production, phagocytosis, and killing of M. tuberculosis. Western blotting was used to analyze NOX2 expression. Inhibitors of the TLR4-NOX2 pathway were used to assess this pathway's role in these processes, and their role in LPS activation of macrophages. Results: We found that THP1-derived macrophages or PMA primed THP-1 macrophages exhibit higher surface TLR4 levels and increased NOX2 expression levels following LPS treatment. M. tuberculosis infection reduced these levels, but LPS was able to limit the negative effects of M.tb. Additionally, LPS increases THP-1(A) cells' bactericidal activities including phagocytosis, ROS production, and destruction of M. tuberculosis. Significantly, all of these activities are impaired when TLR4 or NOX2 are inhibited. Conclusion: These studies demonstrate the importance of the TLR4-NOX2 axis in M. tuberculosis elimination by macrophages and may lead to novel therapies for tuberculosis and other bacterial infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number194
JournalBMC Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 12 2017


  • NOX2
  • Phagocytosis
  • TB
  • TLR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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