The Journal of biological chemistry

Cardiac RNA induces inflammatory responses in cardiomyocytes and immune cells via Toll-like receptor 7 signaling.

PMID 26363072


We have recently reported that extracellular RNA (exRNA) released from necrotic cells induces cytokine production in cardiomyocytes and immune cells and contributes to myocardial ischemia/reperfusion injury. However, the signaling mechanism by which exRNA exhibits its pro-inflammatory effect is unknown. Here we hypothesize that exRNA directly induces inflammation through specific Toll-like receptors (TLRs). To test the hypothesis, we treated rat neonatal cardiomyocytes, mouse bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDM), or mouse neutrophils with RNA (2.5-10 μg/ml) isolated from rat cardiomyocytes or the hearts from mouse, rat, and human. We found that cellular RNA induced production of several cytokines such as macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2), ILs, TNFα, and the effect was completely diminished by RNase, but not DNase. The RNA-induced cytokine production was partially inhibited in cells treated with TLR7 antagonist or genetically deficient in TLR7. Deletion of myeloid differentiation primary response protein 88 (MyD88), a downstream adapter of TLRs including TLR7, abolished the RNA-induced MIP-2 production. Surprisingly, genetic deletion of TLR3 had no impact on the RNA-induced MIP-2 response. Importantly, extracellular RNA released from damaged cardiomyocytes also induced cytokine production. Finally, mice treated with 50 μg of RNA intraperitoneal injection exhibited acute peritonitis as evidenced by marked neutrophil and monocyte migration into the peritoneal space. Together, these data demonstrate that exRNA of cardiac origin exhibits a potent pro-inflammatory property in vitro and in vivo and that exRNA induces cytokine production through TLR7-MyD88 signaling.