, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 168-179
Date: 22 Oct 2010

Toll-like receptor 2 deficiency improves insulin sensitivity and hepatic insulin signalling in the mouse



Substantial evidence suggests a link between elevated inflammation and development of insulin resistance. Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) recognises a large number of lipid-containing molecules and transduces inflammatory signalling in a variety of cell types, including insulin-responsive cells. Considering the contribution of the fatty acid composition in TLR2-depedent signalling, we hypothesised that the inflammatory signals transduced by TLR2 contribute to insulin resistance.


Mice deficient in TLR2 were used to investigate the in vivo roles of TLR2 in initiating and maintaining inflammation-associated insulin resistance and energy homeostasis.


We first recapitulated the observation with elevated expression of TLR2 and inflammatory cytokines in white adipose tissue and liver of ob/ob mice. Aged or high-fat-fed TLR2-deficient mice were protected from obesity and adipocyte hypertrophy compared with wild-type mice. Moreover, mice lacking TLR2 exhibited improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity regardless of feeding them regular chow or a high-fat diet. This is accompanied by reductions in expression of inflammatory cytokines and activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) in a liver-specific manner. The attenuated hepatic inflammatory cytokine expression and related signalling are correlated with increased insulin action specifically in the liver in TLR2-deficient mice, reflected by increased insulin-stimulated protein kinase B (Akt) phosphorylation and IRS1 tyrosine phosphorylation and increased insulin-suppressed hepatocyte glucose production.


The absence of TLR2 attenuates local inflammatory cytokine expression and related signalling and increases insulin action specifically in the liver. Thus, our work has identified TLR2 as a key mediator of hepatic inflammation-related signalling and insulin resistance.