Toll-like receptor 4 is activated by platinum and contributes to cisplatin-induced ototoxicity
Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is famous for recognizing the bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) as its canonical ligand. TLR4 is also activated by other classes of agonist including some Group 9/10 transition metals. Roles for these non-canonical ligands in pathobiology mostly remain obscure, though TLR4 interactions with metals can mediate immune hypersensitivity reactions. In this work, we tested whether TLR4 can be activated by the Group 10 transition metal, platinum. We demonstrated that in the presence of TLR4, platinum activates pathways downstream of TLR4 to a similar extent as the known TLR4 agonists LPS and nickel. Platinum is the active moiety in cisplatin, a very potent and invaluable chemotherapeutic used to treat solid tumors in childhood cancer patients. Unfortunately, cisplatin use is limited due to an adverse effect of permanent hearing loss (cisplatin-induced ototoxicity, CIO). Herein, we demonstrated that cisplatin also activates TLR4, prompting the hypothesis that TLR4 mediates aspects of CIO. Cisplatin activation of TLR4 was independent of the TLR4 co-receptors CD14 and MD-2, which is consistent with TLR4 signaling elicited by transition metals. We found that TLR4 is required for cisplatin-induced inflammatory, oxidative and apoptotic responses in an ear outer hair cell line and for hair cell damage in vivo. Thus, TLR4 is a promising therapeutic target to mitigate CIO. We additionally identify a TLR4 small molecule inhibitor able to curtail cisplatin toxicity in vitro. Further work is warranted towards inhibiting TLR4 as a route to mitigating this adverse outcome of childhood cancer treatment. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.
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