Peptidoglycan and muramyl dipeptide from Staphylococcus aureus induce the expression of VEGF-A in human limbal fibroblasts with the participation of TLR2-NFκB and NOD2-EGFR

  • Marco Adán Juárez–Verdayes
  • Sandra Rodríguez–Martínez
  • Mario E. Cancino–Diaz
  • Juan C. Cancino–DiazEmail author
Basic Science



Keratitis caused by Staphylococcus aureus often leads to Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)-dependent neovascularization, but contribution of peptidoglycan (PGN), muramyl dipeptide (MDP) and lipoteichoic acid (LTA) from S. aureus to VEGF-dependent neovascularization has not been well-studied. This work was focused on the analysis of S. aureus cell wall components in the production of VEGF family members (VEGF-A, VEGF-B, VEGF-C and VEGF-D) in ocular limbal fibroblasts.


Primary culture of human limbal fibroblasts (PCHLFs) were stimulated with PGN, MDP, and LTA, and VEGF family; toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain 1 (NOD1), and NOD2 expression were determined by RT-PCR. Anti-TLR2 antibody, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling inhibitors (AG1478 and PD98059), and NFκB activation were used to analyze VEGF-A by ELISA. TLR2 and NOD1 expression were analyzed by flow cytometry.


The stimulation of PCHLFs with PGN and MDP increased the levels of VEGF-A expression (mRNA and protein) in a time-dependent and dose-dependent manner. VEGF-B, VEGF-C and VEGF-D were expressed constitutively, and no further induction was observed in stimulated PCHLFs. LTA did not increase the expression levels of the VEGF family. TLR2 mRNA and protein were increased only when PCHLFs were stimulated with PGN. Treatment with an anti-TLR2 antibody blocked the interaction of PGN with the receptor, inhibiting VEGF-A over-expression; the presence of anti-TLR2 antibodies did not affect the over-production of VEGF-A after MDP treatment. PCHLFs stimulated with PGN and MDP, but not with LTA, activated NFκB. MDP stimulated the production of NOD1 and NOD2 mRNAs in a time-dependent and dose-dependent manner, and NOD2 protein was only increased by MDP. Treatment of PCHLFs with AG1478 and PD98059 inhibitors prior to stimulation with MDP resulted in the inhibition of VEGF-A over-production, compared with PCHLFs stimulated with MDP alone.


Taken together, these results suggest that limbal fibroblasts produce VEGF-A through PGN-TLR2-NFκB and MDP-NOD2-EGFR.


Peptidoglycan Muramyl-dipeptide TLR2 NOD2 VEGF Limbal fibroblasts Staphylococcus aureus 



Vascular endothelial growth factor


Primary culture of human limbal fibroblasts




Muramyl dipeptide


Lipoteichoic acid


Pattern recognition receptors


Toll-like receptor


Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain


Nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells


Nuclear factor of kappa light polypeptide gene enhancer in B cells inhibitor alpha


Epidermal growth factor receptor



This work was supported by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACyT) No. 153268. S. Rodríguez–Martínez, M. Cancino–Diaz, and J.C. Cancino–Diaz appreciate the COFAA, and EDI, IPN fellowships; and SNI, CONACyT.

Disclosure statements

Marco Adán Juárez–Verdayes: none; Sandra Rodríguez–Martínez: none; Mario E. Cancino–Diaz: none; Juan C. Cancino–Diaz: none.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Adán Juárez–Verdayes
    • 1
  • Sandra Rodríguez–Martínez
    • 2
  • Mario E. Cancino–Diaz
    • 2
  • Juan C. Cancino–Diaz
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyEscuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas of Instituto Politécnico NacionalMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Department of ImmunologyEscuela Nacional de Ciencias Biológicas of Instituto Politécnico NacionalMexico CityMexico

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