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Previously we reported that corneal epithelial barrier function against Pseudomonas aeruginosa was MyD88-dependent. Here, we explored contributions of MyD88-dependent receptors using vital mouse eyes and confocal imaging. Uninjured IL-1R (−/−) or TLR4 (−/−) corneas, but not TLR2 (−/−), TLR5 (−/−), TLR7 (−/−), or TLR9 (−/−), were more susceptible to P. aeruginosa adhesion than wild-type (3.8-fold, 3.6-fold respectively). Bacteria adherent to the corneas of IL-1R (−/−) or TLR5 (−/−) mice penetrated beyond the epithelial surface only if the cornea was superficially-injured. Bone marrow chimeras showed that bone marrow-derived cells contributed to IL-1R-dependent barrier function. In vivo, but not ex vivo, stromal CD11c+ cells responded to bacterial challenge even when corneas were uninjured. These cells extended processes toward the epithelial surface, and co-localized with adherent bacteria in superficially-injured corneas. While CD11c+ cell depletion reduced IL-6, IL-1β, CXCL1, CXCL2 and CXCL10 transcriptional responses to bacteria, and increased susceptibility to bacterial adhesion (>3-fold), the epithelium remained resistant to bacterial penetration. IL-1R (−/−) corneas also showed down-regulation of IL-6 and CXCL1 genes with and without bacterial challenge. These data show complex roles for TLR4, TLR5, IL-1R and CD11c+ cells in constitutive epithelial barrier function against P. aeruginosa, with details dependent upon in vivo conditions.

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Originally published in Scientific Reports, 7 [Article 13829]. Licensed under CC BY 4.0. The original material can be found here.