Candida albicans induces TLR2/MyD88/NF-κB signaling and inflammation in oral lichen planus-derived keratinocytes
Introduction: The risk of oral lichen planus (OLP), a chronic inflammatory oral mucosal disease, becoming malignant increases by 21-fold in patients with fungal infection. This study examined the impact of Candida albicans exposure on Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in primary keratinocyte cultures obtained from OLP patients.
Methodology: Following co-culture of primary OLP keratinocyte cultures with C. albicans for 24 hours, inflammatory cytokine concentrations were determined by ELISA. TLR2, MyD88, and NF-κBp65 mRNA and protein expression were assessed using quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot analyses, respectively. Keratinocyte apoptosis was also determined by flow cytometry.
Results: IL-10, IL-8, IL-2, and TNF-ɑ levels were significantly higher following co-culture with C. albicans (all p ≤ 0.034). MyD88, NF-κB p65, and TLR2 mRNA (all p < 0.001) and protein (all p ≤ 0.004) expression levels were significantly higher in OLP keratinocytes following C. albicans exposure. Finally, the apoptosis rates of OLP keratinocytes were 21.2%, 29.4%, and 25.4% for the control cells and 3.9%, 5.6%, and 4.4% for those exposed to C. albicans, suggesting that co-culture with C. albicans inhibits the apoptosis of OLP keratinocytes.
Conclusions: C. albicans activates the TLR2/MyD88/NF-κB signaling pathway in OLP keratinocytes, resulting in increased cytokine expression and decreased keratinocyte apoptosis. Two key events in the pathogenesis of OLP and its progression to malignancy, namely increased inflammation and decreased apoptosis, were induced by exposure to C. albicans. Thus, targeting this signaling pathway may represent a novel therapeutic strategy to prevent OLP malignant transformation.
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