Roles of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4 in mediating experimental autoimmune orchitis induction in mice

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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The mammalian testis is an immunoprivileged site where male germ cell antigens are immunologically tolerated under physiological conditions. However, some pathological conditions can disrupt the immunoprivileged status and induce autoimmune orchitis, an etiological factor of male infertility. Mechanisms underlying autoimmune orchitis induction are largely unknown. The present study investigated the roles of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) and TLR4 in mediating the induction of experimental autoimmune orchitis (EAO) in mice after immunization with male germ cell antigens emulsified with complete Freund adjuvant. Wild-type mice developed severe EAO after three immunizations, which was characterized by leukocyte infiltration, autoantibody production, and impaired spermatogenesis. Tlr2 orTlr4 deficient mice showed relatively low susceptibility to EAO induction compared with wild-type mice. Notably, Tlr2 and Tlr4 double knockout mice were almost completely protected from EAO induction. Moreover, we demonstrated that TLR2 was crucial in mediating autoantibody production in response to immunization. The results imply that TLR2 and TLR4 cooperatively mediate EAO induction.